…whoever wants to become great among you will be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you will be slave to all. ~Mark 10:43,44
When I first read this passage for our worship this week, I thought to myself, ‘Wow! This is really appropriate in the 21st century.’
Throughout the history of Christianity and the Church’s infatuation with power and prestige, we are reminded time and time again how important it is for the body of Christ to serve, not to be served. (Mark 10:45) In the book of Mark, time and time again, Jesus points out that egoism and self-absorption restricts both the Christian and the future Christian.
First, the disciples argue about who is the greatest. (Mark 9:34) Then, they are frustrated because others are not doing things the way that the disciples would have. (Mark 9:38) After that, they rebuke some adults who bring children to Jesus for a blessing. (Mark 10:13) Finally, James and John want to elevate themselves to a place of honour when Jesus comes into his kingdom. (Mark 10:37) Every time the disciples do this, Jesus brings them back down to earth and reminds them that those who want to be the greatest have the opportunity to do even more with humility – as servants.
There is another way to understand Mark 10:44. In our world that is inebriated by power, prestige, and pontificating, it is abundantly clear that the moment one wants to be great, they become a slave to popular opinion and social media. Some politicians constantly check their approval ratings. Some entertainers perpetually push the edge of what is good and correct so that they can continue to be in the public eye. Some churches and pastors are slaves to the approval of the congregation.
And yet, Jesus pushes that all out of the way. That slavery to public honour and opinion leads to nowhere. One private or public mistake and you are erased – cancelled, as is the contemporary terminology.
But rarely, if ever, do we hear of servants, or servant-hearted people, being cancelled. Why is this? Because power and prestige and popularity has not enticed them to do and say things that bring glory to themselves. They serve to bring glory to God the Father.
Thus, Jesus points to this way of life as one for which we strive.
In the next instalment of ‘How Then Shall We Live,’ we will dive into being a GOAT (the Greatest of All Time) as opposed to being a servant of the living king dedicated to help people shed their blankets of fear.
Pr Reid Matthias