“The great paradox of the gospel is that when we give our lives away in loving service, our true identity is found!”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – August 11, 2022
An argument arose among them as to which one of them was the greatest. But Jesus, aware of their inner thoughts, took a little child and put it by his side, and said to them, “Whoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me; for the least among all of you is the greatest.” Luke 9:46-48, NRSV
We live in a culture of winners and losers. A world that celebrates victory and success while frowning upon failure and weakness. This is seen in every area of society, from winning the Super Bowl to beating out the competition and landing a dream job. Yet at times this pride in our status and reputation shows up in far more subtle ways: in the car we drive or home we own, in the vacation photos posted on social media, or even in the way we compare ourselves to friends and family.
It is so easy to get caught up in the race to “be somebody” that we entirely forget the radical and dangerous invitation that Jesus gives to each of his followers- to deny themselves and follow him (Matthew 16:24). If we are to be his disciples, we must follow Jesus as he is revealed to us in Scripture, not Jesus as we wish or simply desire him to be. One invites us to reframe our identity and worldview in light of who he is; the other seeks to remake him in our likeness.
“The greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves… I am among you as one who serves” (Luke 22:26-27).
In this selfie generation, it is harder than ever to faithfully live out the words of our Lord, yet our challenges run deeper than cultural conditioning. By nature, we default to self-interest and self-promotion. As St. Augustine said, we are “curved inward on ourselves.” It is this inward curve that Jesus comes to redirect, to reorient our lives away from self-absorption and turn them instead outward towards love of God and neighbor.
To do this, we must look afresh to Jesus. To see in him perfect love that comes, not to be served, but to serve (Matthew 20:28). We must turn outward and see a savior who gives his life as a gift for the life of the world (John 6:51), taking on the very nature of a servant (Philippians 2:7).
When our thoughts, desires, and actions are turned outward towards love of God, it leaves very little time to inflate our egos or nurture this desire for status and success. In fact, the great paradox of the gospel is that when we give our lives away in loving service, our true identity is found! It is in this act of selfless living that we find meaning, purpose, and fulfillment.
Father, remind us today that “it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.” (Traditional Prayer, attributed to St. Francis)
How can you deny yourself today and serve someone else just as you have been served by Christ?
Passion ft. Kristian Stanfill: More Like Jesus
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