A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Friday, March 31, 2006

The Heart of a Servant

American Industrialist, John Kenneth Galbraith, in his autobiography, A Life in Our Times, illustrates the devotion of Emily Gloria Wilson, his family�s housekeeper: �It had been a wearying day, and I asked Emily to hold all telephone calls while I had a nap. Shortly thereafter the phone rang. Lyndon Johnson was calling from the White House. �Get me Ken Galbraith. This is Lyndon Johnson.� �He is sleeping, Mr. President. He said not to disturb him.� �Well, wake him up. I want to talk to him.� �No, Mr. President. I work for him, not you." When I called the President back, he could scarcely control his pleasure. �Tell that woman I want her here in the White House.�

That is the attitude servants of Jesus Christ should have. We work for the King of Kings, and nothing should deter us from carrying out his instruction.

What does it mean to have the heart of a servant of Jesus Christ? The Greek doulos is the most common word in the New Testament that denotes "servant." Sometimes the word is diakonos (deacon or minister); both words denote someone who is not at his or her own disposal, but is the purchased property of the master. Bought to serve the master�s needs, to be at his beck and call every moment, the slave�s sole business is to do as he is told. Christian service therefore means, first and foremost, living out a servant�s relationship to one�s Savior (1 Corinthians. 6:19-20).

What work does Christ set his servants to do? The way that they serve him is by becoming the servants of their fellow-servants and being willing to do literally anything, however costly, irksome, or undignified, in order to help them. This is what love means, as Jesus himself showed at the Last Supper when he played the servant�s part and washed the disciples� feet.

When the New Testament speaks of ministering to the saints, it means not primarily preaching to them but devoting time, trouble, and substance to giving them all the practical help possible. The essence of Christian service is loyalty to the king expressing itself in care for his servants (Matthew 25:31-46).

After President Calvin Coolidge issued his famous �I do not choose to run� statement, he was besieged by reporters seeking a more detailed statement. One, very persistent journalist, badgered Mr. Coolidge, �Exactly why don�t you want to be President again?� he asked.

Coolidge looked him squarely in the eye. �Because,� he replied, �there�s no chance for advancement.�

In the Kingdom of God there is no advancement to the top. The top is already occupied by the one who alone deserves it, Jesus Christ our Lord; and he is at the top because he is the greatest servant of them all.

On one occasion Jesus gave a lesson in Kingdom �ladder-climbing� to his disciples:

You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:42-44).

We are shaped to serve God; in so doing, God shapes us after the image of his Son, Jesus Christ, the greatest servant of them all, giving us the heart of a servant.

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