Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Do you want to stand out? Then step down.

Now Jesus turned to address his disciples, along with the crowd that had gathered with them. "The religion scholars and Pharisees are competent teachers in God's Law. You won't go wrong in following their teachings on Moses. But be careful about following them. They talk a good line, but they don't live it. They don't take it into their hearts and live it out in their behavior.

It's all spit-and-polish veneer. Instead of giving you God's Law as food and drink by which you can banquet on God, they package it in bundles of rules, loading you down like pack animals. They seem to take pleasure in watching you stagger under these loads, and wouldn't think of lifting a finger to help. Their lives are perpetual fashion shows, embroidered prayer shawls one day and flowery prayers the next.

They love to sit at the head table at church dinners, basking in the most prominent positions, preening in the radiance of public flattery, receiving honorary degrees, and getting called 'Doctor' and 'Reverend.' "Don't let people do that to you, put you on a pedestal like that. You all have a single Teacher, and you are all classmates. Don't set people up as experts over your life, letting them tell you what to do. Save that authority for God; let him tell you what to do. No one else should carry the title of 'Father'; you have only one Father, and he's in heaven. And don't let people maneuver you into taking charge of them. There is only one Life-Leader for you and them - Christ.

"Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant.

If you puff yourself up, you'll get the wind knocked out of you.
But if you're content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.
-Jesus (Matt. 23:1-12 The Message)

This is the message of Jesus and the heartbeat of what I long to see lived out in word, behavior and action in our lives as individuals and a church community. It is an upside down kingdom that we are building. A place where in order to get to the head of the table...you sit at the end of the table.

Jesus flat out said: Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted. (Matt. 23:12). Exaltation is not the problem. Sitting at the head of the table isn’t the problem. The problem is the WAY that you get there. The means in which you ascend. The way up in God’s kingdom is by going down. When will we understand that simple but profound reality of the Jesus life?

When will we understand that “the place of honor” is achieved by completely different routes in the kingdom of God?
We have a different WAY!
And that way is clearly laid out in the the 8 woes of Jesus in Matt. 23:13-29. Anything else is not the way of Christ, it is a different way that should not be followed.

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