“Hundreds of people push and shove their way forward as they clamor their way towards the gate entering our medical clinic and compound. Each one has been given a ticket with a number, and each one will be seen at some point in the day by our medical team, but each one still struggles to be first. Each one is sure they are number #1. In fact, as I triage and register the patients we’ve called thru the gate, I am constantly called away from my task…back to the gate by the guards. “Madam…this person has a very special case, we must let them through first.” Or “Madam, this person is a very important official in this community…even though he came late and does not have a number, we need to let him in first.” (Granted there are hundreds of more urgent and critical cases in line begging to be seen, this “important official” is convinced that he deserves to be first.)
Then there are the areas of religious prestige. “Madam, I’m Muslim or Hindu, so you should see me first.” Or “I’m Christian like you, so you should see me first.” (As if either are more deserving of help then the other.) And on and on the request go. Even the policemen, who are suppose to be helping us with crowd control, push and shove their own way to the entrance, begging to be seen by our doctors and dentist...FIRST! It is mayhem…all pushing and shoving, and all feeling that THEY of ALL PEOPLE, should receive our special services FIRST. It is only a bit of concrete and metal that keeps the mob from stampeding forward and crushing us all…”
Thankfully, the above scenes are now only a memory. Yet, amazingly, during our five days of medical work in Jalchatra, Madhupur Bangladesh…we did not get stampeded, and we saw over 3,000 patients – a number breaking the record of the last 3 years. While our medical team was smaller this year, most of the care‐givers were much more experienced and efficient…and this truly paid off in the long run.
However, as I reflect back on the scenes that took place before me just a few brief days ago, I realize that while we were in a struggling third‐world country, filled with poverty and despair…the actions of those around me really weren’t all that “third-world”after all. No, in fact, they are rather akin to our own…even back in the land of freedom, plenty and prosperity (or at least what is prosperity in comparison with this.) Yes, even back in the homeland of the good old USA, it’s all about the “ME FIRST”mentality. And we have just as many reasons and a thousand excuses for why WE of ALL PEOPLE should be receiving the special treatment we deserve…FIRST!!
It could be, “I'm a doctor,”or “I'm a lawyer”…"I'm a celebrity,” or “I'm a high‐ranking official”…or “I can pay whatever is required, so treat me accordingly.” Or “I’ve made a large donation to your organization so I should receive extra perks.”Or on the flip side it could be, “I’m a struggling single mom, I’m a poor student,” or even… “I’m a missionary, I’m a conference president, I’m the head deacon,”or “I’m part of the leadership of such and such an organization...if anyone deserves special treatment, I do!” Status is such a huge thing…even if it’s negative status…but especially if it is “Religious status” and the list goes on and on and on…
In fact, even in Christ’s time…the same struggle was taking place…not just in the heathen mobs around him, or within the obvious pride of the pompous Pharisees, but among his very own disciples. “Who is going to sit next to Christ on the throne? It has to be ME…I deserve to be FIRST.”
Yet, how contrary to Christ whole nature and mentality this struggle is. In fact, it makes me wonder…If this is our mentality, are we truly surrendered to Christ, even now??
Christ has left us a very clear pattern and example…and yet we always seem to be looking for “exceptions”or reasons why WE should not have to follow it.
“Whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Matt 20:27‐28
“Let this mind be in you, which also was in Christ Jesus. Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant…” Phil 2:5‐7
The FORM OF A SERVANT!!!!! Wow…what a concept! How many of us are seeking to pattern our lives after the “form of a servant”?? Can you just imagine the latest breaking news from Hollywood Boulevard, “Celebrity clash over who gets to pick up the trash and feed the homeless!” or "Celebrity does not want to accept Oscar award, but pushes for it to be given to another!" Or what about from our own comfortable church pews…“Conflict at Central SDA over who gets to wash everyone’s feet!”In fact, we could even make headline news from our own homes. “Family members fight over who gets to clean the house, wash the dishes, take out the trash, be last in line to eat…and on and on!”The above scenarios are so unheard of, they are comical. (Of course, if “true servant hood”was practiced as God ordained it, there would be no fighting either… it would be a team spirit of give and take and working together in unity and peace for the betterment of all involved!) And yet, how we struggle with this whole concept of “servant hood”as people and as Christians. In fact, sadly if we are acting the part of “servant”we often stumble over “pride in our service”and if not pride, then feelings of “martyrdom”or something else…
As I contemplate these concepts and our need of “true Servant’ spirit formed by a surrendered heart,” I’m reminded once again…“Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God.”II Cor 3:5
Only GOD…HE ALONE can give us this HEART!!!!!
“What is man, that thou art mindful of Him…?” Heb 2:6
“For ye see your calling brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty. And the base things of the world, and the things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea and the things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. That according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”I Cor 1:26‐31
And Paul continues in the next chapter, with what I believe should be the summary and sole focus in all that we breath, live, and do:
“For I am determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” I Cor 2:2
So simple, and yet so profound…yet I think this is the KEY to true “Servant hood”…the servant hood that Christ asked that we embrace.
For we are nothing apart from Christ, we can glory in nothing apart from Christ. But when we have Christ, we have everything…and through Christ, we can do what the carnal man cannot do. We can be a servant!! But the key is Christ!! Not I and Christ, or Christ and I, but CHRIST!!!
The following quote sums it up precisely I think, and gives all of us a convicting challenge.
“You may have left much to follow Christ…you may have believed on him, and worked for Him, and loved Him, and yet may not be like Him. (Ouch!! Really??) Allegiance you know, and confidence you know, but not yet union….There are two wills, two interests, two lives. You have not yet lost your own life that you may live only in His. Once it was I and not Christ; then it was I and Christ; perhaps now it is even Christ and I. But has it come yet to be Christ only, and not I at all?” The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life, by Hannah Whitall Smith p. 156‐157
As I have once again experienced a few short weeks of service in Bangladesh, I am again reminded of the inadequacies and weakness of my flesh, the struggles of my will, the sin of my own heart…and my prayer for CHRIST and only CHRIST grows stronger.
Live out Thy life within me,
O Jesus, King of kings!
Be Thou Thyself the answer
to all my questionings;
Live out Thy life within me,
in all things have Thy way!
I, the transparent medium,
Thy glory to display.
The temple has been yielded,
And purified of sin;
Let Thy Shekinah glory
Now shine forth from within,
And all the earth keep silence,
The body henceforth be
Thy silent, gentle servant,
Moved only as by Thee.
“There is no limit to the usefulness of one who, by putting self aside, makes room for the working of the Holy Spirit upon his heart, and lives a life wholly consecrated to God.” Desire of Ages, p. 250
So my inspiration for today ends as it began…
“But he that is greatest among you
shall be your SERVANT!” Matt 23:11
May we learn to truly be…His Servants!