Scott on his site just posted this really great post on the current state of discipleship in American churches. Please, really, you must go read it because if we are not awake to the temptations of prestige, power, and possessions, we unknowingly succumb to their subtle allure.
They are the temptations Jesus resisted (Matthew 4:1-11). It is the yeast of the Pharisees (If you haven’t read Mark 8-10 recently, do. Note carefully the power play of the Pharisees in relationship to Jesus’ ministry.)
The temptation is for all disciples is to be the greatest, the best, unrivaled. (Mark 10:35-45). To be the one who saves the day. Or the one who calls the shots. The one who gets the credit.
What do you want to be great at?
Only one answer is acceptable for the disciple of Christ: service. “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is no so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:42-55).
Power and pride give way to humility when we serve others…in whatever way they need to be served. Scott puts this service in the context of hospitality, forgiveness, and generosity. I really love these three tangibles ways of serving others because they require our presence in the lives of others. Who doesn’t share a meal with another and leave with the joy of friendship? Who doesn’t extend the courageous gift of forgiveness and leave as the liberated one? Who doesn’t enter into meeting the tangible needs of others and discover the profoundly generous overflow of gifts from a heavenly Father that could never be obtained with money?
Hospitality teaches us to honor others as important guests. Forgiveness teaches us to sacrifice rights. Generosity teaches us to esteem others beyond what they can do for us.
Self-promotion, power-grabbing, and respect-demanding are antithetical to the kingdom of God. Jesus speaks a better truth to those who are wanting to understand how to be his disciple: Show up at unexpected places. Draw close to those who are estranged. Give to others what they secretly believe they don’t deserve.
In Truly Community, Marva Dawn says, “Relationships that float around on the surface deny the reality of God’s gutsy love, a love so full that it compelled Christ to suffer depths of degradation and cruel crucifixion to demonstrate it to us.”
Resisting prestige, power and possessions is gutsy. Giving prestige, power and possessions to others is gutsy love.
It’s radical. True humility always is. Just look at Jesus if you doubt it.
Imagine how this kind of gusty, humble love could transform our marriages, our relationships with our children, our friendships, our neighborhoods, our politics…oh and don’t forget our churches…most of all our churches! Oh the beauty of it! John Lennon wasn’t even close to imagining something as beautiful as this would be!
If you didn’t read Scott’s post yet, please do…it’s a good one.
How will you be gutsy today?