Friday, January 31, 2014

Being A Servant

Suppose you were transposed in time and place back to the city of Jerusalem during the first century.  Suppose you were given the opportunity of spending 30 days with the Lord.  Suppose that afterward a reporter from the Jerusalem Gazette conducted an interview with you.  Some of his questions might be, “Where did you go?  What did you do?  What did you see?  What happened during those 30 days?  Of all the things you have done, experienced, or observed, what one fact or idea stands out foremost in your mind concerning Jesus?”  What would you say?  Would you tell how impressed you were with the compassion of Jesus?  Would you relate how wise Jesus was?  Would you share how that Jesus knew what to say and how to say it?  Would you point out how relevant and meaningful the teachings of Jesus were?  All of these and much more would certainly be appropriate perceptions regarding the Lord.
However, there is a quality that makes Jesus unique among men.  He was a servant!  Seven hundred years prior to his virgin birth it was prophesied that Jesus would be the suffering servant (Isa. 53).  He left the riches of heaven for the poverty of earth (Phil. 2:5-7).  Human wisdom would have dictated that he be born in a major metropolis by rich and well-educated parents, but he was born of little known parents in a stable and laid in a feeding trough for animals.  His entire life was lived as a servant.  Near the end Jesus laid aside his garments, took a towel and washed the feet of his disciples (Jn. 13:3-11).  If you had everything in your hands, would you take a towel and wash feet?  James and John typified man when they requested positions of prominence in Jesus’ kingdom (Mk. 10:35-37).  Jesus turned the concept of greatness upside down when he said, “Whoever wishes to become great among you, shall be your servant."  “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve” (Matt. 20:28).  Are you a servant?
A true servant of Jesus is not quarrelsome (2 Tim. 2:24).  He seeks to be where Jesus would be and to do what Jesus would do (Jn. 12:26).  It might necessitate a change in reading or viewing habits.  It might require a change in language or the content of one’s conversation, but a true servant is willing to make the changes.  A genuine servant realizes that he owns nothing in this world (1 Tim. 6:7), but is owned by God who paid the purchase price for him (1 Cor. 6:20).  A true servant does not seek a title, but an opportunity.

Edwin Markham tells the story of a cobbler named Conrad.  One night the cobbler dreamed that the next day Christ would visit his shop.  The next morning he decorated his shop with green boughs so it would be an appropriate place to receive such a guest.  He waited all morning and the only thing that happened was that an old man shuffled up asking to rest.  Seeing that his shoes were worn through, Conrad put on the old man the sturdiest pair of shoes he had in the shop before sending him on his way.  He waited through the afternoon but the only thing that happened was that an old woman carrying a heavy load of firewood came by, weary, and out of compassion, Conrad took her in and gave her some food he had prepared for Christ.  As the shades of night began to fall, there came a little lost child crying bitterly.  Conrad was annoyed because it was necessary to leave the shop in order to take the child to her house across town.  When he returned he was convinced he had missed the Lord’s visit while he was gone.  Conrad cried out, “Why is it, Lord that your feet delay?  Have you forgotten that this was the day?”  Then soft in the silence a Voice he heard: “Lift up your heart for I kept my word.  Three times I came to your friendly door; three times my shadow was on your floor.  I was the beggar with bruised feet; I was the woman you gave to eat; I was the child on the homeless street.”  I want to be a servant of the Lord; don’t you?