Sometimes we have the idea that if we follow Jesus we are guaranteed to receive a reward. When that happens, we forget that Jesus’ ministry was one of serving others. He gave himself for the sake of others, including suffering for their salvation.
In Mark’s Gospel, James and John seized the opportunity to ask for the highest positions of honor in His kingdom, one to sit on His right the other on His Left.
Power as the standard of greatness corrupts people. You only have to look at some of our political leaders to see that this is the case. For years, men thought that power belonged to only them. The “Me-Too movement” is changing that and this is good.
People who are corrupted by power fail to realize that there is only a limited amount of power to go around. They want to protect their position, while others who don’t have power want it. If power is a standard of greatness in any organization, including the church, ambition will rule and jealousy will reign. You see, pride wants strokes and lots of them. Pride loves to get the credit, to be mentioned, to receive glory.
Jesus had the right to be mad at the disciples, but he realized that they were slowly beginning to understand what ministry would involve. He chose to teach them the meaning of true greatness by comparing human standards of greatness with God’s standard of servanthood. In Jesus’ vision, greatness is equal to servanthood. Jesus redefined the true nature of greatness. To be great does not mean to lord it over someone. It means to willingly serve under someone.
When we care about the things that hurt others, our hearts will be opened to their pain and that openness will lead to its own suffering. We need to see other people and realize their importance to the world and to God. We need to listen and understand the trials that they have experienced.
When we follow God, we lay the foundation for God’s kingdom here on earth. We have been saved by the greatness of Jesus, and in return we are to serve Jesus by serving others. Someone led us to Christ, so we must lead others to Him. Someone helped us to grow spiritually, so in return we must help others grow spiritually. Someone was kind to us, and in return we are to be kind to others and not dismissive.
This can be hard to remember in our fast-paced world. It can be easy to lose sight of what it means to be great in God’s eyes, but if we slow down and open our eyes we will see that opportunities to serve are all around us.
Each of us has an inner desire to go beyond success to significance. We want our lives to mean something and make a difference. If that is your desire, you must become a candle. A candle sheds lights for others and in the process consumes itself. When our lives become candles, we leave a legacy. What does your candle look like? How much light, if any does it give.