Tag Archives: Service

What to Look For

If there is a puddle under a used car, don’t buy it.  Same thing with suspicious-looking paint jobs.  But how can you “kick the tires” on a church?  How can you tell if a church really represents Jesus in a true way?  You have heard horror stories about dysfunctional churches; how can you avoid the bad ones and find the good ones?  Here is one thing to look for:  How high and mighty is the pastor?  How closely does the pastor live by these words of Jesus?

“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)

Jesus not only commanded His followers to adopt the heart of a servant toward one another, He demonstrated this attitude by His own act of sacrifice.

If you notice a pastor who expects to be treated with special privilege, who struts about with an air of superiority, you can be pretty sure that church is in bad shape.  It may look all nice and shiny, but there is something essentially wrong at its core.  Pastors who know Jesus and follow him will show it by their humbleness and readiness to serve.  The same is true for the rest of the congregation, but it is easier to notice by observing the pastor.

Sadly, this one test is one many, many churches would fail.  But, when you shop for used cars, most of those should be avoided, too.  Not every church is a place Jesus attends.  Don’t overlook this telltale sign.

Quotes: The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Finding the Holy Grail

Victor Borge used to hold out his wrist watch and say, “You like this watch?  My father gave it to me on his deathbed. (Then a perfectly timed pause…) Twenty five bucks!”  Hilarious, because who would try to weasel money from his son when he is just about to die?  Just as incomprehensible to us is the question James and John asked Jesus after He told them He was just about to die.  No, wait a minute… they didn’t ask Him, they got their Mother to do it!  Probably thought she could manipulate Jesus better…

” Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him. “What is it you want?” he asked. She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.” (Matthew 20:20-21)

Are you kidding me?  Jesus had just told them He would be flogged and crucified and they are angling for the best seats?  It doesn’t make sense.  As Jesus points out, they really didn’t understand  what He had just told them.  They must have thought He was using symbolic terms when He said those things about being tortured and killed.  Jesus doesn’t criticize them for asking, but turns their insensitivity and ambition into an important lesson:

“You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?” “We can,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.”” (Matthew 20:22-23)

Jesus is going to be King, He is going to rule over a “Kingdom.”  But His path to that position for Him leads through the “cup” of suffering and sacrifice.  And absolute submission to the will of His Father.  Those who follow Jesus must understand that path and be prepared for that dynamic.  It’s not that all Christians will be crucified, or even all of the apostles (although most of them were tortured to death).  It is that following Jesus flips the idea of what it means to be influential.  

It’s not prestige and privilege, it’s humility and service.  That is the “cup,” the real Holy Grail of Jesus.  It is ironic how many stories have been written about how people, obsessed by greed, expended such effort to find the Holy Grail.  But the real “cup” of Jesus is right here to be taken up by anyone.  That is, anyone who first turns away from his own greed and ambition.

Chew on that…  More to come…

Quotes: The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.