March 21, 2015

Great Service

Matthew 20:20-28

“Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant . . . just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve . . . .”

—  Matthew 20:26-28

Service is a self-evident spiritual discipline. The Son of Man set the lowest benchmark possible to challenge our ideas of authority. He washed his disciples' feet and willingly died for them. When we think we've done enough, remember Jesus.

In today's verses, we read of a proud mother intervening for her sons to get prime positions in Jesus' kingdom. "Whoever wants to become great among you," Jesus responds, "must be your servant." And basically being a servant can be summed up in doing whatever it takes for whoever needs it. Jesus went so far as "to give his life as a ransom for many."

We can serve in many ways. Jesus washed his disciples' dirty feet. I once witnessed a well-known Christian leader bend down to pick up trash on a retreat. Perhaps you mow an elderly neighbor's lawn, or just refuse to bear false witness against her. It's also a service to receive gratefully from someone serving you.

As we grow in the grace of serving, we'll find more opportunities to serve. We can know we're mastering this discipline when we find ourselves serving without a second thought. Serving will have become second nature. Then, perhaps, our neighbor will ask us why and we can point them to Christ Jesus. They may want to know him too—and that would be a great service indeed!

Lord Jesus, you served us by dying for us. Help us to serve you by serving our neighbors. Make us humble, we pray, in your name. Amen.

About the author — Norman F. Brown

Chaplain Norman F. Brown graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, in 1969. He served aboard destroyers during the Vietnam conflict and ashore in San Diego, Calif., as an instructor. By then God had made clear his call to work in pastoral ministry, and Norman entered Calvin Theological Seminary, graduating in 1980. Chaplain Brown pastored churches during his ministry career but spent most of his time as a navy chaplain. During one assignment he served three years at Holy Loch, Scotland, where he and his wife, Ruth, encountered the Iona Community and their emphasis on spiritual disciplines. Chaplain and Mrs. Brown have three married children and nine grandchildren.

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