Servanthood Required

“Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.  For even the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  Mark 10:43-45

In our Bible Study this week, somebody mentioned a time when she often missed church because on the weekends, she had to care for her mother who had developed Alzheimer’s.  She said it was a time when she learned to become a servant to another person, someone who often wasn’t very nice to her.

I respect this lady for her devotion to her mother during a difficult time.  I’m sure it was made easier because she was able to remember times when her mother had cared for her lovingly, times before her brain became affected by disease.  Often in our daily life, we are all called to be servants to people who seem rude or mean, and we find it hard to love them and excuse them, because we don’t see a reason for their behavior.  They don’t have a faulty brain.

It’s good at those times to remember that all of us are afflicted by the same disease which sometimes causes us to act out in ways that appear selfish and incomprehensible.  That disease is called SIN.  I’m not saying we submit to abuse from another, but we can give them the benefit of the doubt.  Sometimes people act badly when they’re tired, they’ve had a bad day, feel out of control or somebody just “pushed their buttons.”  Sometimes they act badly because they’ve learned bad behavior from others, or feel insecure, or have had to deal with trauma in the past.  There are a million reasons.  They don’t excuse sin, but they help to explain it.  It is a kind of brain affliction and we all suffer from it to one degree or another, and sometimes we all need to be forgiven.

Sometimes we decide to avoid people who irritate us, annoy us, don’t appreciate us.  That’s not the best solution.  Getting to know another sinner (remember that’s someone just like you), may lead you to see their good qualities;  it may allow you to influence them in a positive way;  you may come to love them, even if you don’t always like them.  It may even lead them to give you a second chance on the days you need it!

In the verses above, Jesus tells us in no uncertain terms that servanthood is required.  We should probably start practicing today.

For more on being a servant, view these posts:

The Willing Servant

Being a Servant

Get Ready to Get Dirty

 

12 Steps for Sinners

I’m not a friend of Bill’s and I’ve never been to an AA meeting.  However I have read a number of books written by members of AA and also books about AA.  I think people who practice the 12 steps are some of the most spiritual folks around and I often wonder if all us shouldn’t use them as a guide to Christian living.  After all, don’t we all suffer from addiction to sin?

Imagine what would happen if we got up in front of a group of people on some regular basis and said, “My name is (fill in the blank) and I’m a sinner.”  I know, we confess every week as part of the worship service, but that can easily become rote and meaningless.  Many of us say the words (at least some of the time) without really thinking about them.

Imagine how it would feel to regularly do a “fearless moral inventory.”  You know, actually admitting and taking responsibility for the sins we have committed, instead of sweeping them under the rug and hoping we could just “move on” by ignoring them and hoping they never come out into the light.

Imagine what the world would be like if we actually tried to make amends to people when we wronged them.  Saying “I’m sorry and I’ll try not to do that again” can mean a lot if it’s sincere.  Doing what we can to correct the situation we created means even more.

What if we tried, actually tried to be open to God’s leading and grow closer to Him?  What would happen if prayer became a priority in every Christian’s life?  Not something reserved for Sundays, but an integral part of each day.

Suppose, having worked through the steps ourselves, we committed to carrying the gospel message to others?  Not because it’s our duty as a good church member, but because we knew what relief and peace it would bring to many suffering souls?

These are some of the things AA promotes and that addicts who are “working the program” do.  It doesn’t work for everyone, because as one author says,

“Many less desperate alcoholics tried AA, but did not succeed because they could not make the admission of hopelessness.”

In other words, they have to hit bottom.  The same is true of Christians.  We know we have a problem with sin, but we have the mistaken illusion that we’ve got it under control.  We can live with it.  It causes some problems but nothing we can’t handle.  Well, read the sermon on the mount (our sermon topic last Sunday) and think again.  If you’re angry with someone, you’re on the path to murder;  if you insult your brother by calling him a fool you’ve born false witness, when you look at someone lustfully, you’re in danger of adultery;  if you divorce (no matter if it’s legal or amicable) you’ve broken a covenant relationship.  We all have done these kinds of things and more.  We can’t manage our sin on our own. We need a Savior.

Think of the church as “Sinners Anonymous.”  Take the first step and admit the hopelessness and helplessness of your life without Christ.  Then live like someone who knows things have to change.  I’m going to try to.