Tag Archive | christian

NOT TO RULE BUT TO SERVE (Guest Post)

 

Realizing or not, humans love to be respected, appreciated, and even feared by others. In varying degrees, there is satisfaction when humans are able to rule and control others, whether with charisma or with the authority they have. Some people sincerely want to be a blessing to others, but others pursue a certain position to fulfill their needs for influence and power. There are also those who initially start leadership with the right motivation, but feeling satisfied and comfortable when respected and served, can slowly shift their sincerity and humility into pride. Accustomed to being respected by others can make us assume ourselves higher than others if we don’t take care of our hearts.

Leadership in the church isn’t immune to such attitudes. As leaders at any level in ecclesiastical ministry, we must remain vigilant so as not to fall into arrogance which could be changes our hearts from the heart of a Christ’s servant to the heart of a ruler. On the other hand, as a church congregation we should not put too much admiration and hope on our spiritual leaders so that we don’t fall into the sin of idolatry. As great as our spiritual leaders, God must accept the highest admiration from us and God must be the only source of our hope. Because what makes our leaders great isn’t their ability but the power of the Holy Spirit that works within them.

TO BE A SERVANT AND A SLAVE

In Matthew 20: 20-28, once James’ mother and John’s mother made a request to Jesus that Jesus give their children a position on His right and left in His Kingdom. In other words, they want to be given a power to rule. Lord Jesus gave a very interesting answer using a comparison of TWO TERMS:

Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.

Not so with you. Instead, whoever WANTS to become GREAT among you MUST BE your SERVANT,

and whoever WANTS to be FIRST MUST BE your SLAVE—

just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”(Matthew 20:25-28 NIV)

There are TWO COMPARISONS in the statement of the Lord Jesus: 1) whoever WANTS to become GREAT among you MUST BE your SERVANT, and 2) whoever WANTS to be FIRST MUST BE your SLAVE.

In the first comparison: “GREAT” refers to people who are influential and have certain powers within a certain scope. And “SERVANT” in the original language uses the word “DIAKONOS” which means people who are in charge of serving or emphasizing humility to serve others.

In the second comparison: “FIRST” refers to a person with the highest position, occupying the most important or most respected position. “SLAVE” in the original language uses the word “DOULOS” which means metaphorically someone who is completely under the will and authority of others.

If we paraphrase, this is what Jesus’ said: “He who wants to be a great or powerful and influential person must become a servant who always serves the needs of others, and whoever wants to be the most respected and highest position he must surrender himself to become a slave who willingly places himself to do the will of his master.”

Note that the HIGHER a position someone wants to achieve, the LOWER he must position himself! This is the principle of leadership in the Kingdom of God.

HUMILITY COMES BEFORE HONOR

“Before a downfall the heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.” (Proverbs 18:12 NIV)

Humility comes before honor. This principle cannot be reversed. If we pursue honor without first learning to humble ourselves, then we will become authoritarian leaders and don’t respect others. It’s not impossible in the end we also don’t respect God. God doesn’t set us to be leaders and then we must be willing to serve others. Not like that. But, the first we are a servant of Christ then He calls us to be a leader: We are a servant of Christ who called as leaders.

The proof of humility comes before honor is the Lord Jesus himself:

“Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and TOOK ON THE STATUS OF A SLAVE (DOULOS), became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.” (Philippians 2:5-8 The Message)

The Lord Jesus humbled himself and was willing to position himself as a slave who was subject to the will of the Father to die on the Cross. The result is that Jesus was greatly exalted by God the Father:

“Therefore GOD EXALTED HIM TO THE HIGHEST PLACE  and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, TO THE GLORY OF GOD THE FATHER.” (Philippians 2:9-11 NIV)

The last sentence is really interesting. Paul, an apostle who led and anointed by the Holy Spirit to write a large part of the New Testament, stated that the Lord Jesus was exalted not for the glory of Jesus himself, but for the Glory of God, the Father. This kind of humility is what we must have. Whatever achievements and successes we reach out, we must always return all praises to the glory of God the Father, not take credit points for ourselves!

SLAVES TO RIGHTEOUSNESS

Like the Lord Jesus who humbly took on the status of a slave (doulos) who was willing to surrender himself to carry out the will of the Father, so we are.

“But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become SLAVES (DOULOS) TO RIGHTEOUSNESS.” (Romans 6:17-18 NIV)

We have been redeemed from sin and paid in full through His sacrifice. We no longer have the right to live for ourselves, but we must be “a slaves to the righteousness” namely “slaves” who are fully obedient to do all the word of God which is the highest truth. Being a slave to the righteousness means we always crucify our flesh, including our pride and selfishness, to always submit to the will of Christ. Only by continuing to submit to Christ, we are continually processed and trained to be humble so that we can serve God and others according to His commands. Thus we can become leaders in accordance with the standards of God’s Kingdom, that is NOT TO RULE, BUT TO SERVE!

The road to humility isn’t easy and unpopular. Often we have to be willing to take off our “robe of greatness” then wrap a towel to our waist to wash our fellow feet. We can no longer say “Here I am, look at me”, but must always be humble ourselves and say “All glory to God the Father”.

May this Lord’s message to the Philippians also speak strongly in our hearts: Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Philippians 2:1-4 NIV)

 

AMEN

 

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

Photo Credit: Google Images (edited with pixlr apps)

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ONLY THROUGH LOVE (guest post)

Our Christian identity is not like ID card that reads “Christian”, the symbol of the cross, or a painting of Jesus hanging on the walls of our homes. Nor various attributes nuanced “Christian” that we use.

Our Christian identity is LOVE, because love is God’s “FINGER PRINT” in us. Only through the love then the world will know the Father through us.

Have we live and move only in and by Father’s love??

From the beginning the Christ followers had experience a variety obstacles and challenges. Acts 4 tells us that Peter and John were arrested by the priests because they proclaim Jesus’ resurrection. In Chapter 5 the high priest and his followers captured the apostles and put them in jail because of jealous and indignation. And after the martyrdom of Stephen in chapter 6 and 7, many obstacles and challenges increasingly expanded until now.

This is not surprising because the Lord Jesus himself said: “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:18–19 NKJV)

As followers of Christ in the modern world, we not only have to maintain the purity of faith in the midst of an increasingly free lifestyle, but we also have to be careful and thoughtful in dealing with various obstacles and challenges that may come. Knowingly or not, the world will continually see us. They see every speech and our actions. They assess how a follower of Christ to respond when treated not well.

When our hearts are hurt, whether we will reply to wounding with sharper “arms” or we will forgive them.  When we are insulted, whether we will turn disparage them or we give them smile. When we hated, whether we will respond with scorn or we will give them love. The world will see what our respond when all the unpleasant things happened to us.

In Acts 6 & 7, Stephen was being treated cruel and unjust. He was falsely accused on charges of blasphemy: Then there arose some from what is called the Synagogue of the Freedmen (Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and those from Cilicia and Asia), disputing with Stephen.  And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke. Then they secretly induced men to say, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” (Acts 6:9-11)

The result of all that is Stephen brought to the council and must take the punishment that should not be, that died at the hands a lot of people who stoned him. Right at the threshold of death, Stephen prayed: “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep. (Acts 7:60 NKJV)

In the midst of overflows hatred and anger of crowd to him, Stephen’s heart surrounded by the love that enabled him to forgive those who wronged him. What kind of love that able to forgive that great sin? It was not love that comes from the heart of an ordinary person!

In Acts 6:3,5,8 was written that Stephen was a good reputation person, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, full of faith and power. All of it, are spiritual qualities which only owned by the pious people, namely those who actually maintain his relationship with God. People are not just run a religious duty, but always live in intimacy with God, abiding, and really put their lives on God.

The reflection of Stephen’s intimacy with God is look so clear in the council when the witnesses gave false testimony about Stephen: And all who sat in the council, looking steadfastly at him, saw HIS FACE AS THE FACE OF AN ANGEL. (Acts 6:15 NKJV)

Stephen was full of God’s presence. The glory of God is so real surround him until other people can see it! The Holy Spirit lives within Stephen so he filled with love that enabled him to forgive and faithful till the end. Musing for all of us is: Did anyone else see the glory of God through our lives??

We know that human nature is returning evil for evil, and kindness with kindness. Some are even repay kindness with evil. But as followers of Christ we are required to live in different standard of love:

“For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” (Matthew 5:46 NKJV)

“But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.” (Luke 6:27-28 NKJV)

Christ teaches us to love those who hate us because they don’t know what they did. They hate us because they do not know God the Father. “But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me.” (John 15:21 NKJV)

If we hate them, then who will preach the Gospel of Salvation to them?! Hate those who “persecute” us is tantamount to closing the door of salvation for them. Father’s will is that everyone is saved. Therefore we must demonstrate God’s love for them through concrete actions. Thus they will get to know Father in Heaven through us.

If we’ve done a good and right thing but others are still figure out our mistakes… If we are currently facing particular pressure because we are the obedient Christians… If someone mock us as “fanatics” or “pastor” because we do not want to compromise with certain sin… No matter of the form of obstacles and challenges that happened, our first response must be LOVE. If our hearts are always filled with Christ’s love, then that love will keep us so that our next move will not deviate from love corresponding with Father’s will.

In 1 Corinthians 13: 1-3 was written the extreme comparison of love. Let me quote it in full for we reflect together:

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NKJV)

Love is our Christian identity. Without love, all we do is nonsense, useless, and nothing! Let us not be known just as Christians who went to church, energetic in ministry, and is active in various social activities. All was good, but above all let us be known as a Christian who full of loving Christ.

However, how perfect the love of Christ! How high and deep His love is always far beyond of human’s love. Without His help, we would not be able to reach it. The love that could meet standard of God’s love is only love that comes from God’s Spirit alone!

“Now hope does not disappoint, because THE LOVE OF GOD HAS BEEN POURED OUT IN OUR HEARTS BY THE HOLY SPIRIT who was given to us.” (Romans 5:5 NKJV)

If we want to have the love of Christ, we must always be in with the Holy Spirit. If we continue to build intimacy with the Holy Spirit, from time to time, we will be change into more and more like Christ, so that we will enabled to love others as Christ has loved us first.

The core of Christianity is love because God is love. The reason of God’s works for the world is love. If we wish to be a blessing and bring many souls to Christ, there is no way other than we must always be connected with the Holy Spirit.

Let us open our heart and allow the Holy Spirit pour Father’s love till the love attached to be our identity that cannot be separated from our lives, flow through our lives, and touch a lot of people so they can feel and see it. Because only through love we can be a blessing and praising God.

“And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13 NKJV)

Amen

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

Photo credit: Google Images

Edit with: pixlr App

When I say ” I am a Christian “

cross for Christian FormationWhen I say … “I am a Christian”
I’m not shouting, “I’m saved”
I’m whispering, “I get lost!”
“That is why I chose this way”

When I say … “I am a Christian”
I don’t speak of this with pride
I’m confessing that I stumble,
and need someone to be my guide

When I say … “I am a Christian”
I’m not trying to be strong,
I’m professing that I’m weak,
and pray for strength to carry on

When I say … “I am a Christian”
I’m not bragging of success,
I’m admitting that I’ve failed,
and cannot ever pay the debt

When I say … “I am a Christian”
I’m not claiming to be perfect,
my flaws are way too visible
but God believes I’m worth it

When I say … “I am a Christian”
I still feel the sting of pain
I have my share of heartaches
which is why I seek His Name

When I say … “I am a Christian”
I do not wish to judge
I have no authority,
I only know I’m loved!

Carol S. Wimmer

Photo credit : http://www.standrews-delavan.org