Humble Greatness

Life Notes—November 17, 2011

“Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, ‘The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; therefore do whatever they teach you and follow it, but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach.  They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them.  The greatest among you will be your servant.  All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.”  Matthew 23:1-4, 11-12

“Do as I say, not as I do!”  Have you ever heard that line?  Chances are, even if you haven’t heard it directly, you’ve witnessed someone insisting you behave in a certain way, while they continue to behave in a contrary manner.  I’ve probably used the line on my children more than a few times.  It’s only natural for a parent to want their children to have a better life, to succeed where they failed, to make better life-decisions and to live well.  I have caught myself more than once reliving parts of my childhood through my children, or perhaps experiencing, vicariously, what I missed.  I want them to benefit from my experience and perspective before they grow up.  I never traveled toEurope.  I never played high school sports.  I never sang in choirs or marched in bands or played in orchestras.  But my children have and, through them, I have shared in those experiences.

But parents wanting their children to live to a higher standard is not what Jesus is talking about in the scripture above.  He is often merciless in his criticism of the scribes and Pharisees of his time, and this instance is no exception.  He tells his followers they must follow the teachings of these temple leaders, but warns not to follow their actions.  The teachings had been handed down for generations and were worthy of respect and honor.  And though the teachers may have faithfully passed along the truths contained therein, they had somehow come to believe they were above the message.  They were like many modern-day politicians who write laws to govern us, while writing exceptions for themselves.  And then expect us to do as we are told, not as they do.

Jesus’ message is clear.  The greatest among us will be servants of others.  He gives this instruction many times and in many ways throughout the gospels.  But primarily he transmits the instruction by example.  He washes the feet of his disciples.  He calms the sea on a stormy night that threatens to drown everyone on the boat.  He helps Peter walk on water.  He heals and he feeds and he gives attention to those shunned by others.  Service.  Servanthood.  Greatness.  In the character of our Lord is an example of true greatness; not through words or fame but by humble, selfless acts of service to others.

This Sunday is our annualOneChurchservice, followed by an all-church Thanksgiving dinner.  The service will be held at the Douglas County Fairgrounds, beginning at 10:00.  A full Thanksgiving dinner will follow.  All are invited!

Come home to church this Sunday.  Claim your place with your fellow servants!

Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator

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