Thursday, August 11, 2011

Big Ideas

And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” And they said to him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized, but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John. And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:35-45

A recent survey of American parents told a very alarming story. When asked, a vast majority of American parents would rather have their children be fierce competitors rather than compassionate and/or sharing. We live in a culture of attitude and ideas, where it seems that the biggest egos get paid the highest price and get the most attention, and where the kindest are regarded as weak. American schools and playgrounds have a bullying epidemic on their hands and then we wonder where all of this comes from.

The sons of thunder (what a powerful name!) approach Jesus. They think themselves deserving of high rewards and are not afraid to ask for what they think they deserve. Jesus turns the table on them and asks them if they really can be servants, if they really can be the least. He tells them, to their shock and horror that it is the compassionate, the self-giving and the self-giving that are noticed and rewarded by God. And he tells them, and us, there is no power we can wield except humility. Everything we have been taught by business and political leaders is challenged by the words of Jesus. Are we able?

Today, I ask God to help me be humble, so that I can serve others. Not to be noticed or rewarded but for love sake alone. May we all offer ourselves in service to God and others today, praying that the bully and the brokers, the pushers and the takers might know Gods love and be changed, if for a moment, by compassion and kindness today.

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