Servant King

Christians in Pakistan

I remember one day in my early twenties sweeping a floor in a soup kitchen for the umpteenth time and using their hand brush while on my knees to get EVERYTHING off the floor and into the wastebasket when I thought I would eventually graduate from service. Ya know, helping people and serving them. Like the cleaning toilets and taking out the trash kind of stuff.

I remember having lofty thoughts of leading something or speaking somewhere or doing something IMPORTANT. Something that would impact the world and make a mark. One day. One day I would graduate from service.

I can tell you now, a decade later — I will never graduate from service. If I will one day lead others, I will lead them into service. If I speak, I will speak about loving God, themselves, and others well. There has been a change but the change has been within me; I no longer hold a desire to move on to something else.

I still sweep floors, clean toilets, and take out the trash. I still wash others dishes, underwear, and throw away their leftovers. I still wipe that rag along baseboard so dust doesn’t make a home, and I scrub tiles in the kitchen so residue doesn’t stay for long.
Jesus never graduated from service, rather he graduated his disciples into service. His last night with them was spent on his knees getting his hands in their dirt and washing their feet. He didn’t have to. It wasn’t because they were worthy of the act. He did it because it revealed the likeness and nature of his father.

He may not have specifically been inviting them into the life of Cinderella, but in part, he was. Every day some of the people I am most impressed with in the world are not on television shows or the radio; they are people cleaning up the bathroom mistake of their elderly father or mother who didn’t quite make it in their feebleness to the toilet. They are the mothers and fathers who faithfully love an adolescent who hates them back and is being self-destructive. They are the beautiful families that serve siblings or spouses who are handicapped and will never live independently from their care or even have the mind or ability enough to say “Thank you.”

Not only does God serve the needy and take care of the poor, he invites us to something even harder. Welcome to not necessarily graduation from service, but maybe the next lesson within it: “27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. […] 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you. 32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. […] 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, […] Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Lk 6

God never graduated from service. While he was on his knees in front of his friends he was king of the Jews with an unseen crown representing all authority on his head. Jesus was himself called a servant of God, executing his father’s will as his own. His admonishment for greatness was in fact this very thing. “Jesus called the twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” Mk 9:35

My challenge is to not resent the tasks at hand before you; the tasks for which you don’t get paid, the tasks for which no one notices, the tasks for which you won’t get any online attention. And we can all be leaders, but the manner in which we lead says more than our words do. After all, its ultimately him we can do these things and live this life for. It’s him we say thank you to as we exhale our breath, or gaze upon a loved one. It’s him who sees.

 

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The Gospel Revealed through our Enemies

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A man’s character is revealed through how he treats his enemies.  A man’s love extends only as far as his nearest enemy.  Or does it?  There are many religions in the world that refer to conflict, human interactions, and behavior choices. During the time of Jesus’ life racism was as strong as ever. Especially between the current reigning empire of Rome and the ever persevering minority group of Jews. They were excluded, forced to walk in filth on the roads instead of on sidewalks with others, they would be heckled, ridiculed, robbed, spit on, and more, even by Roman ‘police officers’.

Jesus did not avoid these issues when while spending his days with us here on earth. Kingdoms and individuals, political parties and people groups all have enemies, and all choose to respond to their enemies in certain ways revealing what lies within their make-up. In regards to individuals, Jesus’ revelation on how we should respond to people who have hurt us, robbed us, and taken something from us is VERY clear.

We may not be slapped in the face, and someone may not take our clothing from us, but there are plenty of offenses that happen to EVERYONE in daily life. No one is immune to opportunities for woundedness and accusation to take root in our hearts. Jesus, again, very clearly gave instructions for appropriate responses in these situations. The places of grievances and bitterness in our lives are the very thresholds of which the body of Christ stands on to shine something that lives inside of them that exists beyond human justice and selfish reasoning.

Here are a few examples of teachings for instance:

“Love your enemies. Pray for those who give you difficulty and hard times. In that way you will be acting like My kids. For I give good to everyone, naughty and nice alike. Even corrupt politicians love the people that love them, how does that make you any different? But love with perfection as I do.”

“If you do not forgive others, I will not forgive you.”

“Do good to those who hate you.”

What would this like if we acted like this toward the people who hate us? What would it look like if we acted like this as a nation towards countries that hate us?

I heard a man here talk about all that happened to him from under the hands of ISIS here in the middle east. He said to me, “If you knew everything they did to me, you would be friends with no Muslim.” This statement revealed not only the hurt of the individual but also his lack of the knowledge of God. God himself was beaten, betrayed, abandoned and murdered, and still the words on lips that revealed the content of his heart were “Let none of this be counted against them.”

In his innocence, God did not bear up under scorn and cry “I must have justice! I must have payment!” Instead, in complete selflessness, God denied what was rightly due him, and gave himself–his life–as an offering for their freedom, their peace, and their wholeness.

So often–myself included–we get caught up in this loop-hole of a thought process of self-justification, self-consideration, self-sympathy.  We are in the right; others are in the wrong.  The very ones we accuse in our minds are the very one’s God thought were worthy to give his life for. ‘Being right’ is not the answer; ‘being love’ is.

It is in the opportunities of offense, injury, and hurt we have a divine opportunity to confound the mind of our offenders in reckoning ourselves having been already crucified with Christ and not acting on our own behalf, but in his likeness living in us, as us, and through us.

We have the power to let yesterday go in the relationships we hold with people around us.  I’m not saying this is easy, but it brings to mind Corrie Ten Boom who forgave one of the very guards that held her in a concentration camp, but she knew it wasn’t of herself but it was God giving that man forgiveness through her.  Displays of forgiveness, selflessness, generosity, and blessing without them being deserved or earned, or even in the face of hatred, is giving others the experience of heaven here on earth.

I feel like this would be most profound on a political and international level as well. Sometimes we are holding onto power so tightly that we don’t actually utilize the opportunities we have in using the power we’ve been given.

This loving response to injury does not only reveal his glory here on earth, but is our own path to liberty and restoration; individually and nationally. Restitution follows forgiveness rather than being a prerequisite for it.