When Jesus was born, Rome was a powerful force with plans to rule the world. Society was hierarchical with Caesar at the top, hailed as king of kings. Below him were the Senators/high level politicians, Equestrians/men with great resources and influence, Decurion/low-level politicians, then the Roman citizens, and at the lowest rung were the servants. Jesus left his throne at the right hand of God in Heaven and came to Earth to serve in a society where servants were of the lowest class. He challenged his followers to see people in a different way. Jesus upset the hierarchy and taught a path of descent; he taught that we should lower ourselves and serve others. We can identify with the Roman mentality because in America we too believe in climbing the ladder, ascending to greatness/success. Whatever must be done to climb to a higher rung is the justifiable means to an end. However, if we are going to follow Christ’s example, if we are going to serve others as Christ intended, we must attain a new mindset, assume a new posture and put love into action by serving others.
Jn 13:3-5, 6-8, 13-17; Phil 2:5-11
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! (Phil 2:5-8)
Gaining a new mindset is far from easy. A change of mind requires transformation. Paul says that we renew our minds through God’s word (Ro 2:2). God’s word is the nourishment our minds need in order to grow and develop into the mind of Christ. Also, our heart must assume a new posture. As our minds grow and change, our hearts change. We need to get low, to have the posture that says I am not first; I’m ok being last. I am not the greatest; I am the least. When Jesus washed the disciples’ feet in the upper room, it was a teaching moment. He then told them to follow his example and do as he had done. He promised blessings for their efforts. Each day we encounter people with needs: at work, at the gym, at the store, in our neighborhood. Opportunities to serve are all around us, and we can serve anywhere. Serving is helping—with a bill, with a project, with someone’s children; help by being an encouragement. Small acts of service can happen all through the day. Bigger things must be planned. Jesus was often inconvenienced by the crowds, the people in need of healing, the disciples’ whining, but he put the needs of others above his own comfort and served.
When have you felt the urge to serve but you pushed it aside? Are you most likely not to serve because of time, money or energy? How is your mindset—do you see people in a hierarchical way or do you see everyone as equal? What does “assuming a new posture” mean to you (getting low)? Whom do you know that has a servant’s heart? Why? Who is it easiest for you to serve? Why? Who do you find difficult to serve? Why? How does your position at work or in your community affect your mindset toward others? What act of service is God calling you to do? How will you respond?
Find opportunities to do acts of service and kindness each day. Decide where you can serve by giving of your time, resources and energy. Don’t pick something that’s easy for you…consider someone or something where you struggle to “get low.” Follow through. Enjoy the blessings.
Gracious Father in heaven, thank you for sending Jesus to teach me how to serve. Transform my mind and heart. Help my love for you and others to be evident by my actions. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.