Look Down to Look Up
The stereotypical Christian household is one of conservative values and respectable living. One would expect to find a well-manicured lawn, neat and tidy house, well-behaved children and loving parents. Perhaps a cross between “Leave It To Beaver” and “Happy Days” — simple living and good clean fun. But is being a Christian really that pleasant?
Looking Up to Find God
Whenever we’re looking for God, it only seems natural to look up. After all, that’s where heaven is, right? And when you walk into almost any Christian church, you can look up and see the cross, a crucifix, or the risen Christ somewhere high above your head.
And then, of course, our English language tends to support that notion. When you admire someone and want to be like them, we say that you “look up” to them. Those we do not admire or even loathe, we “look down on”.
But this week’s Gospel shows us something different. When James and John ask that Jesus let them sit on either side of him when he comes into his glory, Jesus explains that the greatest among them shall be the servant of the others. And a servant does not place himself above the rest.
Looking Down to Find God
What a strange concept. It was difficult for the disciples to understand, and it is difficult for us today as well. Perhaps on an intellectual level it makes sense to us, but it’s far from being easy to live our lives that way.
Prestige, fame, authority, and recognition are some of the strongest motivators for people. Yet Jesus tells us that these are not signs of a true disciple. In order to follow him, we must put others above ourselves.
Rather than looking towards the sky when we are trying to see God, maybe we should look towards our feet. For it is the person who is serving others — putting others above himself — who shall be first in the kingdom of God.
It’s not a neat and tidy life, and it can be far from “pleasant”. But the rewards in the next age far exceed anything we can gain in this life. So let’s start putting others first.
How do you put others above yourself?
Who are the people in your life who make themselves servants to others?
Where do you see God in the world?
Copyright 2003-2018 by Brandon Jubar
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