Photo Above: Cartagena, Columbia, Photographer: Norma Gomez
Greatness According to Jesus
24 A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. 25 And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. 26 But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. 27 For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves. Luke 2:24-27
It has been said by many that the US is the most individualized nation of all time. We value the greatness of the individual over the greatness of the community. We celebrate stories of entrepreneurial success. We love the idea of rags to riches, and the idea that with enough perseverance we can all be successful. Too be fair this focus on individual greatness isn’t exclusive to the American society. This is an innate human desire. We see from the passage above that even the disciples had this concern in the presence of Jesus.
This celebrated idea of individual exceptionalism and greatness unfortunately has been carried over into much of the church as well. We are much too focused on the individual aspects of the faith. What is God’s will for my life? What are my giftings? What is God doing in my life right now? What do I got to do to be blessed? How I can experience more of God in my life?
After hearing the conversation about the disciple’s desire for greatness Jesus offers a principle which is in stark contrast from the world’s systems. He tells the disciples to be great in the Kingdom of God, they need to be the least. Jesus tells them the greatest person of all, is the servant of all.
This is yet another time when Jesus flips our understanding of the kingdom of God. Humility goes against our understanding of the world. This is why sometimes I believe the church is run like a business. Our natural understanding is to do the same things that work in the world. But Jesus calls us to look drastically different. He calls us the salt of the world. Salt preserves and salt adds flavor.
Jesus call for humility for servant hood is for all Christians. Humility is not just an individual gifting or inherited personality trait. Humility comes from the transforming power of Christ. Find Joy in serving. Lose your life (give up your desires), and then gain it in Christ and His Kingdom by serving (find joy in the mission of God). Remind yourself Jesus did the same. Remind yourself you were predestined for this. (Romans 8:29)
2 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,[a]6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,[b] being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:2-11