I went to a memorial service this morning to say goodbye to a friend . Before I left the house, there were a flurry of thoughts running through my mind which came together when I saw a Facebook news feed linked to Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest page, which you can read here. It reminded me that in matters of worship, service or any other aspect of life, the question is always the same; “Who is this really about?”.
As Christians, we are to be the reflection of Jesus Christ. As his church, we are members of his body (1 Corinthians 12:27). He is the head and we are its members. And just as in a healthy body the members reflect the commands of the head, so we should be a reflection of the mind of Christ. The Apostle Paul paints a word picture of the mind of Christ in Philippians 2:5-11. As if it weren’t enough for Christ to give up Godhood to become human, Paul tells us that He “emptied himself, taking the form of a bond-servant”.
It may be difficult for Americans to fully appreciate the meaning of this term, although it may be helpful to think back to the time of slavery in this country. A bond-servant was an individual that was bought off the slave block and was bound to his master for life. They had no individual rights, could not come and go as they wished, and were answerable to every command of their master, who told them where to go, when to go, when to talk, when to be quiet, when to work, when to eat, when to sleep, who to marry, and whether they would live or die.
We are bond-servants to Jesus Christ. We were bought with the price of His life. We no longer have “rights” to any part of ourselves; Christ holds title to every bit of us. We live and serve at his command. Jesus himself demonstrated the attitude he wants from us in John chapter 13. At the Passover feast prior to his crucifixion, Jesus took on the bond-servant role whose job it was to wash the feet of visitors and residents of the home, the job assigned to the slave lowest on the pecking order. Jesus then teaches an object lesson to his ego-driven disciples looking for leadership positions in His kingdom. He tells them (paraphrasing), “if I am not too proud or ‘good’ to serve in the lowest position in the house, then neither should you be”.
We have less trouble accepting Jesus as Savior than we do as Lord. We like the idea of being free from accountability for our sins, and we will serve, but we reserve the right to choose the time, the place and the method. We mistakenly think it is only about our own spiritual growth. Our misunderstanding is reflected in such statements as, “I didn’t get much out of worship today”, as though it were the responsibility of the worship leaders to make sure we get our fill of spiritual nourishment for the week. Or as Chambers said, when we become a necessity in someone’s life,when the focus is on us, we are out of God’s will and have misdirected their line of vision.
Our primary responsibility as Christians is to hold up Jesus Christ before the world. That should be our consuming passion and ultimate joy. We say that we want to be Spirit-filled, but the only way that can happen is if we are empty. If we selfishly hold back even one small part of ourselves, we are useless vessels because there is not enough room for Jesus. It’s not about us, or what we want; bond-servants don’t get that option. But Jesus also calls us friends; “…the friend of the bridegroom…rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:29-30)