being willing to take second fiddle and serve

A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. You are those who have stood by me in my trials. And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Luke 22

I have never seen this connection before, and I like how the NIV in its paragraph divisions, brings all of this together in one paragraph. During the Last Supper, of all places, after Jesus told them that one of them was about to betray him, they began to argue with each other over which of them was considered to be greatest.

Jesus pointed to himself as the one who took the place assigned to servants; the more important, or considered greater people, sitting at the tables, being served. But that, because they had stood by him in his trials, he would give them a kingdom in which they’ll sit down and eat and drink, as well as sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

The ways of the world easily rub off on us. We need to take care that we neither lord it over others, or expect them to serve us. Instead we need to appeal to them, and serve them. We especially need to be sensitive to those who have been hurt, and who might easily misunderstand our actions and words. But we also need to be open to the need for rough edges to be taken off of us.

I’m afraid that the world sometimes rubs off more on us, than our way in Christ rubbing off on the people of the world. We end up imitating what we admire. We need to learn to see the beauty of Jesus, and come to value that. And then see everything else in that light. Certainly that’s the way of humility and service. And in God’s grace by the Spirit, Jesus himself can live in us and help us. In fact, because of that, we can become more like him.

That is the key, but at the same time we need to be aware, and when need be repent and become like the little children of the Father in the kingdom, loving and serving each other, and the world, in God’s love, in and through Jesus.

beauty in brokenness

Our society doesn’t embrace brokenness. Somehow it needs to be fixed, and the sooner the better. The leading candidate of one party for the upcoming presidential election is popular in part because he would not only never acknowledge such, but doesn’t believe in it. But Jesus did. Even if some of us, and even some churches might to some extent get caught up in something of an unbroken superiority complex.

Give me the real, the human, the honest and suffering person, and there you will find someone who not only can be helped, but who more often than not enters into a beauty that is beyond them. Simply to be honest and reject all masks is beauty enough. There is a person I know who is up there in years, and supposedly has the cognitive ability of a two or three year old, and while I may not doubt that, I think assessing this person is more complicated than that. And even though she may not be pretty to look at, as the world sees it, I find her to be one of the most beautiful people I know, because she radiates and lives in the childlikeness which the Lord holds dear. “Except you change, and become like little children, you will never enter into the kingdom of heaven.” And in our brokenness and humility, something of the greatest of all beauty can begin to break through: the beauty of the Lord.

Part of the difficulty in this condition is that although we’re close to being in rhyme with heaven, we are also close to being in rhyme with hell (Michael Card). I can find myself there a number of times everyday. Pushed onto that side for whatever reason. So that I realize I need more of the Lord’s work in me to overcome that. Perhaps too little in my eyes, and at least largely hidden from others most of the time, but important in God’s eyes, and as we learn to see more and more with God’s eyes, it becomes more important in our eyes as well.

Yes, we need a broken and contrite, humbled, penitent heart, because we indeed are broken. The ones most broken are those who don’t believe they are. But brokenness can be beautiful, when before the Lord we acknowledge such, and his beauty begins to be seen through forgiveness and cleansing, and even in the midst of our struggle and weakness and even failure. It is certainly not us we want others to see, but only the Lord.

Christmastide and God’s honoring of his people in and through King Jesus

I delight greatly in the Lord;
my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the soil makes the sprout come up
and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness
and praise spring up before all nations.

For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,
for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet,
till her vindication shines out like the dawn,
her salvation like a blazing torch.
The nations will see your vindication,
and all kings your glory;
you will be called by a new name
that the mouth of the Lord will bestow.
You will be a crown of splendor in the Lord’s hand,
a royal diadem in the hand of your God.

Isaiah 61:10-62:3

We remember that he was to be given “the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins,” (Matthew 1:21), the NIV footnote telling us that “Jesus is the Greek form of Joshua, which means the LORD saves.” God saves his people from their sins and for his glory and their good. In God’s love, he honors his people. Although God won’t give his glory to another, in the case of his people in and through Jesus, God does share something of his glory, which ends up redounding completely back to him. But in that process his people are both blessed and honored.

This salvation is completely a gift, unadulterated, 100%, never something we can earn or deserve for a moment. Yet in that gift, God takes us up in his grace into something of his own glory, and makes us partake of his beauty and splendor in and through King Jesus. It’s a beauty that humans were meant to partake of as those in God’s image, Jesus being the restorer and perfection of that.

And so “the gift that keeps on giving” in Jesus, is one that fills our lives, and ultimately is to fill the earth in the love and to the glory of God in and through King Jesus.

the beauty of Jesus

One thing I ask from the Lord,
    this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
    and to seek him in his temple.

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

If there’s one thing we need to see and become changed by it’s the beauty of Jesus and the beauty of the Triune God in him. As we contemplate that beauty we begin to be changed into that image so that we reflect something of it into the world.

This is both an individual and a church matter. The beauty of Jesus is seen in our lives individually especially in terms of loving God and loving our neighbor (which is the first and greatest commandment and the second like it). It is relational at its core since at our core we are relational beings, surely part of God’s image in us, God who is inherently relational as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This beauty is worked out or becomes evident in community, and in fact can be seen and transformative there. As well as in solitude. We surely need both, perhaps with a needed emphasis on community since we have inherited such an individualistic (and rationalistic, both versus tradition and authority) world view in the Modernist Enlightenment.

It is not as much a matter of being right as being good. However goodness does not exclude truth. Truth and love are joined together in scripture. Love does not belittle truth. While we hold humbly to truth as we’ve received it as the church from scripture, we above all see the truth in Jesus, who is “the truth” (“the way and the truth and the life”). In some ways this beauty is easily recognized and appreciated by us, but in other ways not. We need new eyes to see, and that’s what we receive in the gift of the Spirit. Without the Spirit’s revelation we simply won’t get it. This revelation is for each of us, but is not a privatized vision, but one that is affirmed over and over again by the church.

And so that is what I hope for: both to see and to reflect the Lord’s beauty as I more and more am changed into that image with others in and through Jesus.