Monday, March 4, 2019

How Good is Your Serve?

Do you know what sport Jesus played? According to the Bible, He said it was tennis: “The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve” (Mark 10:45). And He urged His followers to watch out for His return.

Okay, just kidding. That’s not at all what He meant. I know that. But it does clearly say that, despite being the Son of God – God incarnate – Jesus came to serve us. What does that mean?

Jesus Christ came to serve - but
not on the tennis court!
Christ’s service to us took many forms. He served by teaching, giving timeless principles for living rewarding and successful, "abundant" lives. He directly healed many people of their disabilities and diseases. He provided a model for us to follow in how we conduct our own lives. 

Most important, He made the ultimate sacrifice in the most profound sense, dying on the cross as the once-for-all-eternity atonement for the sins of mankind. “The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God” (Romans 6:10). Or as 1 Peter 3:18 expresses it, “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the Spirit.”

Jesus the servant. What images does that conjure up in your mind? Better yet, if someone were to call you a servant, how would you react? That’s a very valid consideration, because after reviewing all He did for us, 1 Peter 2:21 admonishes, To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.” Just as Jesus did not shy away from being a servant to us, part of our calling as His followers is to be servants for others.

When we hear the word “servant,” we typically think in negative terms. We come up with synonyms like “servitude,” “indentured servant,” or even “slavery.” We consider such a role demeaning, representing a lower station in life, whether it’s the downstairs servant staff many of us saw portrayed on the TV series, “Downton Abbey,” or the dutiful housekeeping staff at a hotel. Most of us dislike being treated as servants, whether at work or in our homes.

And yet, serving – and being a servant – is regarded as a noble office by many. Mother Teresa, who devoted her life to aiding the poor and dying in Calcutta, India, said, “Give of your hands to serve and your hearts to love.” Robert K. Greenleaf, author of the acclaimed book Servant Leadership, offered the view, “Good leaders must first become good servants.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. often challenged his audiences to pursue lives of service, helping others. He observed, “Not everybody can be famous. But everybody can be great, because greatness is determined by service. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You don't have to know about Plato or Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know Einstein's theory of relativity to serve. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love.” 

Without question, Jesus epitomized all of the above and much more. Which places an onus on each of us who professes to be among His followers. When we hear the word “Christlike,” we think in terms like being patient, peaceful and friendly. But humility and willingness to serve others are traits that lie at the heart of Christlikeness. 

The apostle Paul stated it this way: “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: ‘The insults of those who insult you have fallen on Me’” (Romans 15:1-3).

So, whether in the classroom, the office, the neighborhood…or even on the tennis court, who can you serve today?

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