But Jesus called them unto him, and said, “Ye know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Not so shall it be among you: but whosoever would become great among you shall be your minister; and whosoever would be first among you shall be your servant: even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:25-28).
Subjecting yourselves one to another in the fear of Christ (Ephesians 5:21).
We live in a power-hungry world. People who have power try to hold onto their power. People who feel disenfranchised, oppressed, or otherwise without power seek to obtain power through persuasion, influence, and when necessary, force. This desire for power is certainly expressed in terms of nation-states, but power games can play out in any aspect of or relationship in life: at work, at home, in schools, among friends, and so on and so forth. It is easy to see why many people seem to look at everything in terms of power–who has it, who does not have it, and why.
Jesus knew that this was the case. He saw it even among His disciples, who often jockeyed amongst themselves to see who would be “greatest” in His Kingdom (cf. Matthew 20:20-24). The world may operate according to such principles, but Jesus made sure that the disciples understood that it would not be so in His Kingdom! Instead, the one who serves– the one who goes so far as to humiliate himself and become a slave– is the one who is great in God’s Kingdom (Matthew 20:25-28)!
Believers, then, are called to servanthood. When we declare that Jesus is Lord, by necessity, we are declaring that we are not lords (cf. Acts 2:36); if we declare that we believe that Jesus is the Lord, we must understand that such means that He has all authority and we are His servants (Matthew 28:18, Romans 6:17-18). Whatever authority or power we might possess is not really our own but given to us by the Lord to accomplish His purposes (e.g. Ephesians 5:22-33, 1 Peter 5:1-5).
This is a radical declaration that is intended to transform the life of every believer in Jesus Christ. Whereas there might be power plays out in the world, no such thing should exist within the church, His Kingdom (Colossians 1:13, 24). Instead, believers are to submit to each other out of reverence for Christ, who came to serve and not to be served (Ephesians 5:21, Matthew 20:28). Believers are not to attempt to figure out how to one-up one another, or how to control the congregation, but instead in humility must seek ways to serve one another and how to build up the congregation (Philippians 2:1-4, 1 Corinthians 14:26). This same spirit of humility and service should also be evident in the Christian’s marriage, family, employment, and in every other aspect of life (Ephesians 5:22-6:9).
Servants entrusted as stewards of God’s purposes: such is how Jesus speaks of believers in a parable in Matthew 24:45-47, and it is to this that we should aspire. We do not have the power; Christ does, and we serve Him. Let us seek to serve one another and all men in all humility, proving to be good stewards of God’s varied grace, and not allow pride and the quest for power to distract us from His purposes!
Ethan R. Longhenry