Autumn Leaves 3 Column

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Servant of All

The passing of Edward Moore Kennedy has been quite an event in New England. The pomp and circumstance of the different ceremonies were televised and attended by all the “right” people. Family members and close friends spoke and shared stories of Senator Kennedy, humanizing him and allowing the public to see a snapshot into the private life of a public figure. Finally, he was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery near his two older brothers. Not only has a family lost a husband, father, grandfather, uncle, etc., but Massachusetts has lost a long-term Senator.

While I am not terribly interested in politics, the many stories shared about Senator Kennedy seem to reveal a man who recognized his role as a senator: a servant of many. In Mark 9:35, Jesus reminds his disciples that, "If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all." As I have observed the outpouring of grief for the loss of Teddy Kennedy and the love and care shown to his family, I have come to the conclusion that Senator Kennedy never forgot his role as a servant of his constituency. He did not perform his duties perfectly, nor was he without his “skeletons” so to speak; but it appears that he worked very hard to fulfill his responsibility as a public servant.

Nevertheless, now that the business of burying the dead has been completed, the competition for his Senate seat is just beginning. The striving and posturing by the various players will be televised for all of us to see; the political rhetoric will drone on without ceasing as each of the contestants promises the sun and moon for our votes. And finally, an election will be held in January that will determine the “winner.” Democracy is the title we have given this form of government and it has served us pretty well for over 200 years. But I will be interested to see if the new person who represents this state in the senate will be able to remember their elected office is that of a public “servant”.

1 comment:

  1. It's interesting, if we back up one verse to Mark 9:34, we see the disciples quarreling with one another over which one of them was the greatest. Sadly, the disciples' concept of greatness and leadership, drawn from their culture, needed to be completely reversed. Jesus goes on to teach them that it is NOT those who lord their position over others who are great in God's Kingdom, but those who humble themselves like little children.

    So, then, who really are the greatest people in the world? Who are those who truly humble themselves? Is it the geniuses? The rich and famous entertainers? Professional athletes? Politicians born into families of wealth, privilege, and power? Of course not.

    If we jump up one verse to Mark 9:36 we join Jesus' lesson. He lifted up a small child (we also see this in Matt. 18), and Jesus basically says, Look, everybody comes into the Kingdom of God broken, humble, unselfish, with no achievement, no accomplishment." Jesus uses a child because a child is the best human illustration of a believer in the Kingdom of God because we have no rank in God's Kingdom. If we are in the Kingdom, we are there only by the grace of God.

    God is not interested in our accomplishments or achievements. It makes no difference how many laws we passed, how popular we were, or how many home-runs we hit. It never was nor never will be about our merit. Yes, we have different duties, different responsibilities, and different gifts that God has given us, but we don't rank any higher.

    Nobody ever called Jesus, "Dr. Jesus," and nobody ever called Paul, "Dr. Paul." Titles for ourselves, silly backwards collars and robes, or seeking to sit in a chief seat somewhere have nothing to do with the body of Christ. There is no pecking order, if your in the Kingdom it is because God sees you covered with the righteousness of Jesus Christ, not your diploma on the wall.

    If we remember Luke 9 Jesus said, "If any man come after Me, let him deny himself." That is the essential element in saving faith, to belong to God's Kingdom, and to be truly great. You literally put your trust in Christ for your salvation, recognizing there is nothing in you commendable, nothing in you worthy, nothing in you of value, nothing in terms of achievement or to commend whatsoever. It is in that attitude of spiritual bankruptcy, spiritual poverty, Jesus even called it hating oneself, it is in that attitude of denying oneself that true salvation can occur.

    So, in Matt. 18:1, the disciples asked Jesus, "Who then is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" Jesus answered in verse 4, "Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." BUT, Jesus also adds this warning, "Whoever causes one of these little ones to stumble, he would be better off dead." ...sobering words indeed.


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