April 15, 2013

True Public Service

“You have seen how the earthly rulers exercise their authority, inconsiderate of the poor. This is not how it is to those in the kingdom of God. Whoever would be great among you, must first become your servant. And whoever of you would be the greatest, must first be servant of all. Even so, I have come, not to be served, but to serve, and to give my life as a ransom for many.” –Jesus

There was a time, alas, when the “earthly rulers” in America believed and practiced this. Not merely the political rulers, but business, professional and religious rulers as well. I met a man who lamented the “greed” that, he believed, is peculiar to the wealthy. Funny how business people are singled out as greedy when its crippling effects are evident wherever “rulers” have lost sight of this fundamental principle of greatness: being the servant of all. It’s as if a Jedi-like mind trick is being played on the public (“I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of, you know, fat cat bankers on Wall Street…” –Barack Obama) creating an illusory distraction while running off to lavish taxpayer financed vacations and golf outings.

The lust for power and status is not unique to America, nor in the history of the world. The tower of Babel was a vain attempt to symbolize man’s timeless quest for ascendancy. Every organizational structure in every kind and type of “kingdom” of this world, from beauty contests to athletic competitions to corporate and/or military chains-of-command, send a clear message of the values that drive them.

Jesus himself was tempted by its allure when the Devil took him to the highest point in the city of Jerusalem. Although He could not be tempted with evil, he could (and did) experience the struggle of deciding between inferior “Good”; ie, good-intentions, good-works, good-causes, good-ideas, feeling-good vs Obedience to the Perfect Good.

How tempting, and how often we fall prey to its allure, to use power and status to achieve our own “good” ends. How tempting for the Lord of Life to use his other-worldly power to conquer corruption, genocide, infanticide, greed, war, disease, yes, death itself by appealing to the baseness in man: conquering evil in others before conquering our own. Surely tens of thousands would have rallied to his cry to turn their plowshares into swords and ride forth in magnanimous glory to bring His Kingdom’s rule over the nations.

But only a handful stayed at his side as He chose His Father’s will, His Father’s nature, His Father’s fellowship over the powerful pull of political, worldly ambition. In doing so, they discovered what true greatness really means. The desire for greatness demonstrates that it is as much a part of our nature as the desire for companionship or love. How we satisfy those desires is the evidence of our faith.

“Obedience, then, is as divine as Will, Service as divine as Rule. How? Because they are one in their nature; they are both a doing of the truth. The love in them is the same. The Fatherhood and the Sonship are one, save that the Fatherhood looks down lovingly, and the Sonship looks up lovingly. Love is all. And God is all in all.” –MacDonald

Love is manifest supremely through service rather than ambition.

The earth will be free because Love is stronger than Death.

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