HOW TO BE THE GREAT, TRULY GREAT…
I have spent the last 12 years volunteering for great opportunities, doing important jobs, traveling all over the world. I have been surrounded by and worked with/for world class clandestine special operations elements; briefed Generals, Admirals, State Department Officials and other senior level federal executives. Sure, it was all part of the job, however, there were times, many times it was all for the rush of the game of being something greater than I was. I really was just a servant. Nothing more. However, in my mind, I thought I was greater, as I was surrounded by the “Tip of the Spear”.
I have been studying the Gospel of John lately. Jesus has been spending time with the disciples for about 3+ years up to this point and the apex of His time with them is centered around the discourse given in the upper room, just days before His crucifixion and resurrection. Not only was this the highlight of the disciples time with Him, it was also the final thoughts of Jesus’s ministry.
What we find in John 13:1-11, is not what Jesus said, but rather what He did. Those that followed Jesus up to this point were known as disciples, i.e. students. These students are seen in the scriptures often, arguing among themselves about who is going to be greatest out of their group. (See: Lk. 9:46-48; Lk. 22:24-32; Matt. 20:20-28). Jesus takes this opportunity to illustrate what greatness is in the kingdom of God. He, the guest of honor at the table, the greatest among them, the master teacher, stands and removes His outer garments and He wraps around Himself a servant’s towel and begins to wash the disciples feet and then reminds them again, after many other discussions that the greatest in the kingdom of God is a servant.
The point here is that instead of searching for greatness, Jesus just served. He served others by healing, he served others by making more wine, he served others by caring, by feeding them, by teaching, by encouraging and so on. Serving… that is where one becomes greatest.
Following my thoughts here, my friend Scott will take us a step deeper on this topic. However, before moving on, I recall a few weeks ago, I was having some coffee with a friend of mine, BG (by the way, this is not Billy Graham). I shared a little of my testimony with him and then BG kindly asked me a question. “He said, Will, why do you often refer back the the great things you’ve done…?” I was immediately convicted and told him that I have an issue with “Significance”. In other words, I want to feel important. Interestingly enough, BG didn’t really care about my great endeavors. I was only trying to impress him I suppose, so that I felt accepted. You see, BG has risen to the top of the heap if you will. He’s been a highly successful developer, sold millions if not billions worth of real estate, been on numerous boards and help launch successful businesses. Yet, he doesn’t amplify any of that to me when we hang out. No, he just wants to enjoy the company of our friendship and learn and share what God is doing in each of our lives. What many don’t know, is BG serves the Lord, by ministering to a homeless guy, picking him up each week and brings him to our Men’s weekly Bible study. My point is, greatness is not about what we have done, could do or even will do… its about serving others with greater needs then ourselves, like BG and furthermore, that is what Jesus was trying to teach the disciples and us in the upper room.
I find myself, in my flesh, always wanting to be on the top, not the bottom; the noticed one rather than the unnoticed; the one being served rather than the one serving. Thank God there is deliverance from the enslavement of the flesh! The first thing I need to do is stay in an attitude of confession and repentance about that sin! I have to stay real with God and myself about the flesh’s propensity to resist serving. Thank God, that sin has been forgiven and paid for, and my new man is righteous in Christ! Which brings me to the next thing….
Something that has intrigued me for a long time is what verses 3 & 4 of that John 13 passage may be showing us as a key to being free to serve in a way that honors God. John says, “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God….laid aside his outer garments…..”
Is it a coincidence that John tells us about this consciousness that Jesus had before he got up and took the servant’s position? I don’t think so. He knew who He was, from where He came and to where He was going, and in that knowledge He stepped out. I believe that the key to serving God with joy and freedom is to know who we are in Christ and whose we are in Christ! It is why Paul prayed for believers that, “…the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe…” (Ephesians 1:17-19) And it is why, only after 11 chapters of telling us in Romans who we are and what we’ve inherited, that Paul then says in 12:1, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God…” I don’t know about you, but I am a lot more motivated to lay down my life for others when I am saturated with the unspeakable truth that I am forgiven, eternally justified (declared forever as righteous as Christ!), adopted, indwelt, regenerated, a co-inheritor, a co-regent…destined to enjoy God forever as He reveals the depths of his grace and love for me…Wow! I feel a lot better already about being a servant-leader. What about you?
Then I still need to keep crying out to God to lead and empower me in laying down my life as I study the ultimate servant-leader, Jesus, knowing that He lives inside me to live that life through me! That is a prayer God is sure to answer.
–Inspired by John 13-1-11; & a friend
–Valued input by Scott Leonard