[Selfless pt. 1]
Pastor Jonathan O’Reilly
In our world, there is a push to be the greatest. It is everywhere. There are competitions upon competitions to be the greatest. And, with that, self-promotion is something we [unfortunately] do really, really well. There are so many things focused on self-promotion and on being the greatest. But, being the greatest is the exact opposite of what Jesus calls us to. Instead, we are called to be servants.
Matthew 23:11 tells us that “the greatest among you will be your servant”. Jesus is always using the example of a servant as a representation of greatness. On more than one occasion, Jesus himself takes on the role of the servant.
So, how can we be good servants?
We can bring a lunch. In 1 Samuel 17, we are asked to do whatever is needed. Not the fun part, not the memorable part – just whatever is needed. Taking out the trash, setting up the chairs, doing the dishes, making food for others. Doing the small, mundane acts of service in order to further the kingdom. Jesus focuses on the small things the most, and looks for our obedience there.
We can offer a ride. In the book of Luke, we hear a story about a guy who gives Jesus his donkey to ride on what would become Psalm Sunday. We don’t know much about this guy, not even his name. What we do know is that he gave something of value, without question, to help someone else. He was willing to offer everything he had, without condition. He had no idea what was on the other side of his obedience, but he was obedient anyway.
We can take up a towel. Jesus is constantly putting himself in a servant role. The most memorable instance of this takes place in John 13. Jesus is having this dinner. All of His disciples are gathered, the food is plentiful. Little did they know, this dinner would actually be the last. But, without this knowledge, they carried on as most groups of people would, joking around and shooting the breeze. At some point, someone probably said something like: “Jesus, who is the best? Like, the greatest at being your disciple? Who do you really like the most?” And, instead of answering them with fancy analogies, Jesus, the Savior of the world and God’s only Son, got down on the ground, and washed feet.
Jesus always took on this posture. He always had this attitude. Jesus always knew that He was here to serve, and He notices our service. He notices our servant-hood, and it makes Him proud.
Instead of striving for greatness, we should strive to be the greatest servant we can be. We have to take on the posture of servant-hood, because Jesus teaches us, by example, that it is right. And this is hard, because being a servant is not glamorous or pretty or memorable. It is not something most would be proud of.
But, our service for others illuminates Jesus’ grace. When we show compassion and sacrifice by doing for others, we are being an example of the love that we are living for. After all, it’s in the quiet things, in the small and plain, that Jesus shines the brightest.