NEW Today’s AMI QT Devotional is provided by Phillip Chen who is associate pastor at Kairos Christian Church in San Diego. Phil is a graduate of University of California, San Diego (BS) and Talbot School of Theology (M.Div.).
Devotional Thought for This Morning
“Serving According to His Terms”
Mark 9:33-35 (NIV)
They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” 34 But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest. 35 Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”
COVID-19 has certainly disrupted many of the rhythms in our lives to which we were accustomed; in fact, many of our daily routines are now obsolete. The church staff recently had a planning retreat, and as we thought through the Fall to see what our calendar may look like, it was difficult to put things down because of the uncertainty of our time. Everything, from our individual rhythms to our corporate gatherings, have been disrupted.
Disruption is not a bad thing. Perhaps it is an opportunity for us to re-evaluate the way we have been living. For myself, I’ve been reflecting on whether my life has been in line with the way of Jesus. As I spent time reflecting on it, I realized how difficult it really is to pursue greatness in the Kingdom of God. Jesus tells his disciples that those who want to be great in the Kingdom of God must become the least in the kingdom of this age. They must become a servant of all. They must voluntarily lay down their agenda of becoming great in the present kingdom.
That’s a hard pill to swallow.
Now, most of us would like to think of ourselves as servants since we serve in different ministries in the church; in addition, we serve our families and friends. While doing so, we may feel like we are doing all that to meet the quota (i.e., obligation), but that is different from serving with the heart of Christ powerfully displayed when he came down from heaven to serve us. Even without this identity, we can still serve—until we are treated like a real servant, which greatly offends us. This is to say, we like to serve, not according to the terms of Jesus, but those of our own.
The journey of a servant is a journey of descent. Consider Philippians 2:1-11 and the way Jesus humbled himself to come in the form of a human and submit himself to the cross. The King of Glory humbled himself to die a servant upon the cross. That’s the way of Jesus. That’s the model for greatness in the Kingdom of God. Is it possible that we’ve miscalculated what it means to be successful in this lifetime?
The allure of the rewards of this kingdom has deceived us. The comfort, the privilege, and the rewards of this life pale in comparison to the eternal rewards and glorious riches of God’s Kingdom. We know this. But perhaps we have not fully believed that greatness in the Kingdom of God is worth laying down greatness in the kingdom of this Age. Most of us are so accustomed to the journey of ascent that we struggle with the downward trajectory of the journey of a servant.
Obviously, I don’t have it all figured out; in fact, I’m far from it! Therefore, I desperately need the Holy Spirit to help me – particularly in giving me a greater imagination of the rewards of the Kingdom of God. We all need the Holy Spirit to help us see the worthiness of being great in the Kingdom of God. There are many needs all around us. We can certainly see that. As we have had personal encounters with the greatest Servant this world has seen, may we also model our lives to be servants wherever we are called.
Prayer: Father, how difficult it is to be great in your Kingdom. I confess that I still struggle with wanting the rewards of the kingdom of this age. In this time of disruption, I need the wisdom and the power of the Holy Spirit to help me re-orient my life to the way of Jesus. May the ways that I have strayed be highlighted and corrected. May we as a church learn how to follow the way of Jesus in a more significant manner in this season. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Romans 14
Lunch Break Study
Read Philippians 2:1-11 (NIV): Therefore, if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Question to Consider
- What are some qualities of servanthood we see in this passage?
- Does verse 4 “not looking to your own interests but to the interests of other” mean that we should not love ourselves?
- How much do you desire to be great in the kingdom of God if this is the model of greatness?
- Jesus’ model of servanthood is one in which he willingly lays down whatever advantage or privilege he has for the sake of others. He intentionally lowered himself so that he could lift others up.
- There is a difference between self-love and selfish love. Self-love (as I see it) is an identity issue – where we are to have a healthy view of ourselves by seeing ourselves through the lens of God. He sees us and loves us and calls us worthy. On the other hand, selfish love is one which we show self-preference and live our lives in a self-oriented way. God calls us to show preference to others to serve them out of a healthy place of self-love, a confidence in our identity as children of God. Therefore, when we love ourselves the way God loves us, we are able to show preference and selflessly love others (in a better way).
- Personal Response.
Read Philippians 2:1-11 again and spend some time asking the Holy Spirit to reveal ways in which you can take on the orientation of a servant. Write down a few practical steps and tangible ways you can be a servant to those around you and start living it out.