Service goes against the grain of a society that runs on the clockwork of self-care. It’s countercultural, upstream, challenging the irony of a world that advertises altruism and plasters benevolence to billboards — but really, we’re bankrupt.
Sometimes my mind jumps to exception, but I’m halted by the question that comes in the every day.
I order coffee and the faint fuzz of a dollar bill grazes my hand. I drop it in the jar because tipping is what I do to be decent, because I’m always constructing my concept of self from a first-person narrative. I sit down and I’m thinking of all I need to do, my thoughts are a dripping stream of deadlines and desires, and the common denominator is me.
What do I want? What do I need to get done? What do I think?
Sitting in the early morning glow of a Christmas tree it hits me, halting, illuminatively – how simple His coming was.
He came so humbly, so impoverished. The promised King was called the Chosen Servant; God, fleshed-out and unflinching at the feebleness and filth of what He entered.
I think back to a coffee shop when my thoughts were circles of self, how much my own perspective consumes my horizon, how easily I fall into the self-righteousness even of wholesome thinking. And the irony hits me then with the weight and bitterness of the silty bottom-of-the-cup: the humility of Christ is what saved my life, yet most days I live in the enormity of His sacrifice with a scarcity of servanthood.
Christmas is the thing that puts all pretension to shame; Jesus, taking a heavenly bow into the dust and debris of our humanity. In the most miraculous inversion of all, High became low.
The promise of the Chosen Servant comes full circle when Jesus said “…the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and give His life as a ransom for many.”
The Son of Man turns earthly economy on it’s head and calls us to the pure purpose of His kingdom –
It’s never about us, but only ever about Him. Any gospel that allows us to live in the comfort and idolatry of self is a false gospel. The Jesus way is the counter-culture way, where High became low to show us — the last will be first in the only Kingdom that lasts. To follow Him is to make much of Him, and I can’t carry my cross if I’m wearing my own crown.
Sitting in that Christmas tree glow, the bitter pill of conviction finds a chaser in the glorious grace of His presence. I know I’m His – and it makes my heart ache with the loveliest of longings –
Jesus – soften my heart and teach me to be a servant after Yours. Empty me of the silty illusions of grandeur and strip me of the trappings of pretension. Take me, broken and humble and longing, and make me even more so –
Isaiah 42, Matthew 20