But I am among you as one who serves.
The humility of Jesus should stop us in our tracks. In all he did, he served. His healing, his teaching, his living, even in his admonishing of the Jewish leaders, he acted with love and humility. He was always a servant of God.
Those last two words—of God—remind me of the right orientation of our service. When faced with a decision of which master to serve, there is really only one choice, and to serve God faithfully will not always appease other masters whose ways and values take us away from God’s love and mission. We who live economically and socially comfortable lives can easily be distracted from serving God. We like our power, our possessions, our comfortable morality and our freedom of choice. We are deluded into thinking we are serving God by being “nice.” Yet our very conformity to the culture within which we live tells us that our master is not God.
Those of us who have power within churches can lose sight of who we serve when we wield our power out of fear or arrogance, when we capitulate to the temptation to be “relevant” rather than relational, when we push certain people to the margins because of lack of attractiveness, community prestige, age, ability, or economic power and elevate those who can make a “big splash.”
Jesus did not hang around the pretty and powerful. He chose those who were at the margins, who were diseased, poor and lacked influence. He identified with the oppressed and powerless, the ones we might cast aside even in our churches today.
To be like Jesus, to be one who serves when serving brings abuse, rejection and false accusation, is not easy. To choose the popular way of our culture, exercising power and might fueled by pride and greed, is much easier, because it keeps us within the status quo and keeps us in control. We have to be careful in our choice of master to serve.