“Let go of your rights and follow Me lower still into greater servitude.”
“For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. …I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.” (1 Corinthians 9:19, 22)
When I read these verses in 1 Corinthians I think, how often do I let my focus drift off Jesus and His view of me to what others think of me? This is a form of slavery, but not the willing kind. When I take my focus off Jesus, I subject myself to the opinions of others. That’s the moment I become a slave to anxiety, because people are fickle and temperamental. What we like one day, we hate the next. This includes the people who are closest to me, even my wife. Only my God fully knows and loves me. And not just in this moment, but in every moment, from now into eternity.
As I meditatively listen for God’s voice through this 1 Corinthians 9, I sense a renewed conviction relentlessly seek His opinion above all others. I must live like George Quam, the one-armed champion of hand ball I heard about recently. When asked how he won against so many people with two hands, he explained that it’s about options. When the ball went towards his opponents, they had to spend precious moments thinking about their options. Which of their two hands would they use? George did not think that way. He only had one option. So do I –
It’s Jesus’ view of me or nothing.
As I seek Him for His opinion, I’m encouraged by what I hear. This season is no different. What I hear Jesus saying is that He sees me as one of His apostles (1 Corinthians 9:2). That gets my attention. How can this be? I did what He asked me to do over five years ago. I left everyone and everything behind in the city I lived for twenty five years. I moved to a place where I knew no one, focused on the goal Jesus gave me – to start a new church community in an area with the second highest ratio of never churched people in the country.
God is reminding me that He gave me an apostolic calling as one of His beloved children. That’s encouraging to hear. But it’s also convicting. It means I must give up my rights to myself like never before, and be a servant to all. This is what Jesus did for everyone He met, as well as each and every generation after them. I sense Him inviting me to follow in His footsteps in a deeper way.
Over the past few months, I’ve continually seen a vision of Jesus at my feet, washing them in complete humility, just as the apostle John describes in John chapter 13. As Jesus looks up into my eyes from that low position, I see His love for me, for us all. I see Him reaching out His hand to me.
“Come with Me down here in this low place.”
I’m invited to lower myself further by learning to more effectively understand and serve others in a way they can receive.
Author Chris Tiegreen says it this way in his Salt and Light devotional:
“Speaking church language, expecting ‘Christian’ behavior, and limiting ideas from those who do not believe as we do accomplish little. God speaks our language, understands our issues, and opens his arms. And we are called to live in this world with the same accommodation and heart.”
As I take Jesus’ hand and go lower still, I once again discover Jesus at my feet, serving me in greater humility than I will ever have. He is always lower than I will ever go, serving me, encouraging me, loving me. As I intentionally keep Jesus in focus, I willingly grow in being His servant, without becoming a slave to the opinions of others. It doesn’t make sense to the world, but there’s freedom in being Jesus’ servant to all. It’s the greatest promotion ever.
Jesus, I confess I don’t how to live as a servant to all on my own. What do You want me to know and do today? Please lead me to stay attentive to Your voice and Your leading in every step. Lead me to pause, even for a minute before every next thing in my calendar, to prayerfully listen to Your encouraging and challenging voice. Guide me into more effectively loving and serving everyone I meet today, right where they are. Teach me to speak the language of love they will understand.