Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Power Of Servant-hood

When I was young I used to love playing jazz. I was convinced there was some higher power in music you could magically tap into if you were in the right frame of mind. But when I got older I realized that you couldn't play your way out of a really bad mood. And I also came to know that music is mostly just numbers. It could bring a certain state of pleasantness to the mind, but it was merely a sense of beauty that's not so different from the same sense of beauty Einstein saw in a perfect equation built upon—you guessed it—numbers. Furthermore, I'm convinced that art in painting also draws upon this balance of numbers. Even in writing and storytelling there's a certain meter that's pleasant to the ear. Poets realized this thousands of years ago, and so they divided sentence structures into repeating rhythmic lines, so numbers is still a part of it all. Writing and storytelling can go considerably deeper than other art forms though because words can express thoughts in a more exacting detail. Not only can you paint a picture with words, you can tell what the picture means. I think that's why Christ came to Earth as a storyteller rather than a musician, a painter, or a sculptor. He wanted to make the best use of the limited amount of time he had to be here in the flesh. But as much as we like to read about the things he said, the stories he told, and the philosophies he conveyed, this was really something that only took up a small portion of his time. The vast majority of it was taken up with playing the role of a servant.

The bible tells over and over of how Jesus healed everyone that came to him. Can you imagine how much time that took to go to each person individually and heal them? And unlike most physicians today, he actually made quite a few house calls. When he wasn't healing the sick he was feeding the poor, making wine at weddings, calming storms, even playing with people's children. John says this in the very last sentence of his gospel: "Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written." You'll notice he said that Jesus did many other things, not that he said many other things. That in fact, he did so many things that it would be impossible to tell about them all.

Something that's become quite popular today among Christians is meditation. They think that if they can just get into the right mode of consciousness that God will bless them for it and reveal all the secrets of the universe or some such thing. And for sure, there is something to be said for quieting the mind and allowing God to fill it. That may in fact be what the Sabbath is all about. But even so, the Sabbath comes but one day per week. Jesus spent time in prayer, and he spent time teaching and storytelling. But the vast majority of his time was spent in work. It was spent serving others day in and day out. He could have healed all the sick on the face of the Earth and fed all the poor with the wave of his hand. Instead he chose to take the hard road and make an example for us to follow in meeting people's needs individually by the sweat of his brow. I can envision Jesus on many hot summer afternoons refusing to leave a place until every one of the thousands who came to him had their needs met. I can see him drenched in sweat, knees aching, back hunched over till he looked like death, all out of love for others to the point of placing their needs before his own.

The bible tells us time and again that the only good religion is the one that defends the cause of the orphan, the widow, the poor etc. I don't care how well you know your bible, or how much time you spend in prayer or meditation. If you aren't sweating and aching in the service of others, you don't yet know Christ, and all your prayers and bible studies are futile.


Steve said...

Thanks for the words of Jesus's words and more importantly his works. The Epistle of James is great in pointing out, "I will show you my faith by what I do." It is difficult to do your daily duties in the context of serving Christ by serving others. However, I'm constantly reminded that those I meet each day need more than just talk of weather, sports and current news. They need to know that I care about them and am there for them. My prayer is to be able to grow into that kind of person --- the person of Christ.

C W Seper said...

I wish I'd have thought to mention that bit in James. Good point.

If Christians would just think about it a bit, I believe we could all come up with ways to serve others, sometimes even in our regular jobs, by going the extra mile. I know a guy who goes for a walk every morning and picks up every newspaper he sees on the sidewalk and tosses it by his neighbor's doors. When I bring in my garbage can, I take those of my neighbors and put them up by their houses too. It seems like common courtesy to me and a small way of building spiritual muscles. We live in a pampered age where people haven't learned to take joy in work it seems.

Anonymous said...

take joy in everything you do. Be happy you are able to help others. We all have jobs to do on earth and yes we are his servants to complete and praise what he did for us

C W Seper said...

So true! Thanks for commenting.

Agyare said...

I believe most often our motivation for service has often been the problem. Doing something for a reasonable reward has been the order of the day. But if we as christians can do them because of the love we have, service would be much easier.

C W Seper said...

True Agyare, it's all about our intentions and desires in the end, isn't it? That's the core of all humans.