31 Jul The Greatest
Growing up I always loved when we would have ice cream cake. Whenever we had it, I always watched as my mom or dad sliced it, carefully inspecting the pieces to see which one was slightly bigger than the others. Then, there was the classic trying to convince my younger brother that either the piece wasn’t bigger than the others, or that I deserved the biggest piece.
Just a few weeks ago, I was hungry and fixed myself a big bowl of ice cream. My wife saw me eating it, and asked if she could have some too. I hadn’t even thought to offer it to anyone else.
I might be a pastor, but that doesn’t mean I naturally think of others first. Truth be told, naturally, I think of myself first.
One time Jesus was hanging out with his closest friends and followers, and they were arguing. Arguing about which one of them was the greatest, and each one was voting for himself (Luke 22.24).
I’m the greatest. I’m smarter. Better looking. More influential. More competent. Have a better job. Have more Facebook friends or Instagram followers.
It’s easy to look at Jesus’ followers and go, “Wow, they were full of it,” but we do the same thing–in our heads, out loud, about big things and little things. Self-interest is 100% natural.
But, it is not Jesus’ desire for us. That’s not how he came to earth. He came from heaven, as the Son of God, and lived his life as a servant. He did this because he was thinking of all of us first before himself. He wanted all of us to be able to experience God’s love and have a relationship with him.
Jesus didn’t ask, “Who can serve me?” He asked, “Who can I serve?” And, this is exactly what he told his followers after their little argument. Whoever wants to be greatest must become a servant of all. Greatness is not defined by being served but by serving others.
My prayer is that United would be the “greatest” church. Not the church with the greatest music, or the greatest teaching, or the greatest events, even though I hope those things are great. I pray that we will be the greatest, according to Jesus’ definition. One that puts others first, because when people experience that, they will experience what Jesus’ love is like.
This brings us to our third culture-shaping value: others first. Everywhere. All the time. Let’s pursue lives defined by putting others first.
Every time you feel an impulse to think “ME”, do the opposite. When you’re impatient getting out of the parking lot or trying to get ahead in line. When you’re making a purchase or ordering food. When the trash needs to be taken out or the dishwasher needs emptying.
This isn’t easy because it isn’t natural. But, it is the best way to live. Jesus promises us this. And, he promises that we don’t have to do it alone. We can ask him for help–help to renew our minds and hearts to think like him and think of others first.
One of the best ways to do this is to serve on behalf of a cause that is bigger than us, doing things for people who can’t return the favor, or without expecting anything in return. We can do this by serving individuals, by serving the community, and by serving the church. Start here for more opportunities to do just that.