In just a few minutes my kids and I will be leaving for a LONG drive to Pennsylvania. We’re going to try to make it back to my home in one day, and it will take a lot of teamwork and coffee to make it! More on that another time. Our guest minister this upcoming Sunday will be Rev. Walter Hamer, recently retired from Monett First Presbyterian Church. See in a week or so!
Last week I had the honor of joining the McConnell and Feezell families in celebrating the life of Dorothy Feezell McConnell. As I interviewed the family in preparation for the services, I was impressed with her life and commitment to faith and was challenged in many areas of my own life to follow her example as she followed Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1).
A great way to learn a new skill or practice is by modeling, that is, by observing someone who has mastered that skill. Jesus was a master teacher and used this method to teach His disciples. The Apostle Paul recognized this method and in Philippians 2:1-13, he holds up Jesus’ example as the model for the believers in life and conduct.
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature[a] God, (1) did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, (2) taking the very nature[b] of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, (3) he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Phil 2:5-8).
People are dreamers. We want more. We want to be respected, looked up to. Success is something we regularly grasp for. Jesus, however, had no reason to grasp for anything. The Gospel of John tells us that nothing was created without Him. Jesus himself said that He and the Father were one. Jesus had it all, but instead of standing on His position, He laid down his robes and His glory.
Passing from heaven to this world, Jesus took on an earthly body. He walked as we walk, talked as we talk, and struggled as we struggle. He soiled his diapers, skinned his knees, and dealt with peer pressure and growing up. In all of that, however, Jesus became one of us to serve us. “The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve” (Matthew 20:28a).
Finally, Jesus modeled sacrifice for us by following God’s will and laying His life down for our forgiveness. Although he asked, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39).
What does this mean for you and me? First of all, set aside all pride and arrogance. Whatever our background, denomination, or affiliation, none of us has entered the Body of Christ through our own power. And whatever our abilities and/or achievements are, they are nothing compared to what Jesus laid aside to save us.
Second, we are called to be servants, not only of God, but of one another. In Paul’s words, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil. 2:3,4).
And third, we emulate our Master Teacher by laying down our own desires and hopes to follow God’s will for our lives. We find God’s will by working out our salvation—not physically, but spiritually—so we can become more like Christ. We practice sacrifice, loving others and putting them first so they can see Jesus in us.
A teacher once asked, “When was the last time someone told you that you looked like your father? No, I’m not speaking about your earthly Father, but your heavenly Father.” For many of us the earthly family relationship can be seen easily seen. Unfortunately, we often lack spiritual evidence of our relationship to our adopted Father, brought into the family by Jesus’ blood.
“One Sunday morning in 1865, a black man entered a fashionable church in Richmond, Virginia. When Communion was served, he walked down the aisle and knelt at the altar. A rustle of resentment swept the congregation. How dare he! After all, believers in that church used the common cup. Suddenly a distinguished layman stood up, stepped forward to the altar, and knelt beside the black man. With Robert E. Lee setting the example, the rest of the congregation soon followed his lead” (Today in the Word, September 1991, p. 15).
This week, whether celebrating at the Lord’s Table or serving others at work, home, or in the community, remember to get your spiritual exercise in. Work out your salvation by setting aside pride and serving and sacrificing for others. In this way you will find God’s will as God works through you for His good purpose.
Mary Kay Glunt, Pastor P.O. Box 393 Greenfield, MO 65661