Upside-down. That seems like the perfect description for much of what Jesus said in this week's readings. To say that Jesus came to shake up the religion of the day is an understatement. In fact, it was the religious leaders of His time that pushed the political leaders to put Jesus to death. So, yes, He really shook them up.
But what about us? Here we sit, some 2,000 years later. How does what Jesus taught impact our world?
It seems to me that much of His words are as counter-culture today as they were to the people living during His time on earth. Consider these examples from this week:
"If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?" Matthew 16:24, 26
"So therefore anyone of you who does not denounce all that he has cannot be my disciple." Luke 14:33
"If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all." Mark 9:35
"He who is least among you all is the one who is great." Luke 9:48
"For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted." Luke 18:14
"Whoever would be great among you must be your servant. And whoever would be first among you must be your slave." Matthew 20:26-27
Last? Least? Humble? Servant?
How counter-culture is that!
The Son of God, our Savior, calls us to be least, denounce all we have, and become a servant. Surely, Lord, you don't really mean that? How can I survive in this "dog-eat-dog" world without scrapping and scratching and climbing my way up and over whatever and whoever is in my way? God, you just don't understand. They'll walk all over me if I don't work to stay on top.
And He gently answers, "Yes, my child, I do understand." "Even as the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many." Matthew 20:28.
And with those words, He turns our world upside-down.
So what would that look like in today's world? How would we live that out?
I certainly don't pretend to have all the answers, but here are a few thoughts.
In my marriage, perhaps I would be less annoyed and more joyful when I'm taking care of my husband's needs. Perhaps I would be quicker to go the extra mile for him and slower to criticize and complain.
With my children, perhaps I would do less grumbling and grouching when they are messy, irresponsible, fussy, well...you know, childlike. Maybe instead, I would seek to instruct and guide with patience.
At work, perhaps I would take on the tasks of my day with a thankful heart. If overseeing others, how could demonstrate a servant heart rather than lording over them? If working under someone else, how can I honor them rather than complain or undermine? Co-workers? How can I be a help to them rather than compete?
In the church, God's family, how do I serve? I think we often struggle in this realm. For instance, "serving" in the church setting often seems to be interpreted as leading a ministry of some kind. While I am thankful to have leaders in the congregation and we need them, is that the definition Jesus gives to serving? I don't think so. Perhaps this doesn't happen where you live, but in some places I've been, I've seen some rather nasty squabbles in God's family over who is going to serve (aka lead) a particular ministry. So perhaps, here of all places, we need to consider what serving one another in the family means.
Jesus gave His all. His life.
He suffered. He agonized.
He washed dirty feet.
He ignored His needs for the sake of us.
He turned our world upside-down.
Now He tells us to do the same.
What do you think this would look like? Leave a comment. I'd love to get your thoughts.
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