Today, I was reflecting on my years in ministry. I began as a volunteer in 2006, with the intent to go in to full time service to Christ. In 2011, after completing my degree a year earlier, I was asked to be Director of Youth at our home church, and by November of that year, I was ordained to be a minister in Christ, by the laying on of hands of Church Elders. Since, I have done all I could to be faithful to my calling, making mistakes, and being disciplined and corrected by God. I have served at three churches in three states, which, if I was to measure the distance between them, would span a total of 1500 miles between them. I have served in Community Action councils, committees, and other such community minded organizations, and I have been on lists and organizations with other preachers to try and accomplish goals for the Church and the communities in which God has led me.
In each community, the biggest cause of struggle and strife were men and women who desired to make everything all about them. They wanted power or recognition, and so sought to derail the community by any means necessary. In reading the scriptures, this attitude was prevalent among Jesus’ own followers. We’re told that, more than once, they argued over position and power in the Kingdom, and Jesus had to correct them. One such way was found in John 13, when Jesus washed their feet. Peter became indignant, but Jesus said
“Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them” (John 13:12b-17).
If our Lord and master served, and demonstrated it in this way, then we must assume this is how to achieve greatness in God’s Kingdom: not by force, or cunning, but by washing feet, yes, even of those who would betray you. God’s Kingdom cannot be shaken, not can power and place be taken by force of arms, but in service and in love. Let us, then, serve one another, not seeking our own fame, but God’s glory. Jesus died to set us free from insecurity, doubt, sin, and every manner of fleshly longing. So let us be filled with the Spirit and serve and love one another without need of reward.
Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” He said to them, “You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?