Thursday, January 1, 2015

12 days of Christmas: "I Am Among You As One Who Serves"

That's what the young man said to his friends gathered around him. "But I am among you as one who serves." And, that my friends is what I discovered in 2014 as I was led to speak out on behalf of local church unity in Christ; Jesus makes me brave to serve in ways that do not conform with the rest of the world. Speaking prophetically about Christian unity has cost me a couple of friends, for whom I still grieve and pray. However, there's been immeasurable joy and peace, many more faithful friends and strong new friends too. I will report two things. One, sales have been strong of Eyes on Christ: Reflections on Being the People of God in the PC USA) From My Heart to Yours, irrespective of the fact that we gifted ~300 copies (majority, at our own cost).  Two, Path of Grace, my first children's story book was born with the New Year dawning. YES, it is published and will soon be available on Amazon. I am grateful to The Unknowns for their unconditional support.  


More than 2000 years ago a young man was at a dinner with his friends when an argument rose among them. The friends knew the young was a great leader. He was going to lead their people to victory. So they were most naturally curious, competitive, jostling each other a bit as they jockeyed for the best position, in the present and the future. Which one of his friends would be regarded the greatest? Hearing their argument, the young man explained that for his friends, things would be different. In the world those "in authority" are called "benefactors" he pointed out. But not for him or his friends. "For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves." Luke 22: 27 The young man, of course, was Jesus, and Luke 22: 24-30 recounts the whole incident. I encourage you to use the following questions and let the Holy Spirit guide your understanding of this "hard saying" of Jesus.

1) How are you serving among the people God has called you to in your life?  Make a list of all the names of the people among whom you are placed and those whom you serve (e.g. who's at home with you, your work, your workout, your hobbies, your children, your friends, your church/para church organizations, your cause, passion, etc..)

2)  Go through the list and check off the times you are a "benefactor"*** versus when you are truly one who serves. (if you go on short term mission trips, even if it is repeatedly, regularly, in service, please mark yourself as a "benefactor")

3) Offer your list to God and ask the Holy Spirit to show you where you may be needing correction and holy wisdom.

***The word benefactor is typically defined as someone who gives money or a gift to help another person, a charity or a cause. During Jesus' time, among princes (and I would add in our own time, among certain circles too) this was a title that was eagerly coveted. According to Luke, Jesus actually condemns this title! Think about it. Today, the first day of the year is also the 7th day of The Twelve Days of Christmas; in some traditions it is the 6th day (the different Christian traditions count the twelve days of Christmas differently, some from 26th as the First Day of Christmas, and others the 25th).  Epiphany on January 6th concludes the celebration of Christmas. It is traditionally considered the day the magi, the wise men, visited the baby Jesus.It was during this time the Creator himself came to be with his creation. This was his greatest gift and yet, during his last dinner, our great Creator says, "I am among you as one who serves" and this is the title that he wants his friends to have too.

"But our Lord intended to seize on this occasion for laying open a disease which was lurking within them; for there was not one of them who would willingly yield to others, but every one secretly cherished within himself the expectation of the primacy; in consequence of which, they envy and dispute with one another, and yet in all there reigns wicked ambition. And if this fault was found to be natural to uneducated men of ordinary rank, and if it broke out on a slight occasion, and almost without any occasion at all, how much more ought we to be on our guard, when there is abundance of fuel to feed a concealed flame? We see then how ambition springs up in any man who has great power and honours, and sends out its flames far and wide, unless the spirit of modesty, coming from heaven, extinguish the pride which has a firm hold of the nature of man." Source: Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists Matthew, Mark, and Luke (Vol. 2, p. 423). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

BL: The disciples were fighting over nothing. Primacy, such as we know it - who is greatest and who is least,  has no place in Jesus' kingdom. A post that is somewhat related is A Worldview of Abundance by Jeanine Smith. Check it out.

Photo credits: The t-shirt was a Christmas gift from a dear friend. Proceeds from its sale support a children's home in Kenya,Africa.

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