We can all be incredibly stupid - saying the dumbest of things! The disciples were just the same. Jesus had shared the passover meal, portraying his death and even betrayal ... and then they start talking about which of them is the greatest! Jesus sees it as a learning opportunity and cuts in on their conversation.
He talks about the normal world order, with kings and rulers who lord it over others. He talks of how they claim they enable the underlings to live and be provided for. No change today ... look at North Korean leadership, but do we not also see similar in the West too?
Jesus simply says "Don't be like that!". In fact be like the youngest (= the least significant), like a servant. From the world stage he turns to the everyday dinner table with a question: "Who is greater, the one served or the one serving?". Of course we all know the answer - the one served. Yet Jesus then says 'BUT', and goes on 'I am among you as one who serves'.
This is Jesus, God come in human form, the one person who is absolutely 100% rock solid and confident in his identity, the one who has come to seek and save the lost. This is Jesus who says I am here to serve. So the key question for us is deliberately a brain teaser:
[UP] Do you relate to God to become greater or lesser?
Challenge: Be pro-active in self-giving
God wants us to flourish, to know who we are in Him, but as we get ever closer to Jesus are we able to say like John the Baptist did 'He must increase, I must become less' (John 3:30). Some of us are called to be downwardly mobile - the world has its order, but the Kingdom of God messes with it!
The false narrative many adopt is that our needs matter most. Lets think on this not just as an individual, but as a church family. The true narrative for us a church is that others needs matter most. Kingdom logic, being like the Father and Son, means that we look outwards. It doesn't mean that we run ourselves into sheer exhaustion, but we do actively differentiate between the question 'What can we do to improve our church?' and 'How as a church can we serve others?'.
Our vision is outside ourselves: to see Kingdom Life across the City. We have been thinking about capacity, that we might see more. The activities we do (such as 2x2, Foodbank, CAP, and in future chaplaincy) cannot guarantee adding a single member to our church! Yet they are Kingdom activities to which we are called. They will therefore not necessarily preserve the name 'Countess Free Church', but that is okay because that is not our business. Remember that it is the Kingdom that is eternal, in comparison the church is transient/temporary. Jesus said 'Go and Proclaim' and 'I (Jesus) will build my church'.
So we start with who we are in Christ, and what we do flows out from this, and we then organise to do those things well. Many organisations get this the wrong way round, which leads to a preservation mentality. For sure we organise so that we can sustain - thats goes with not running ourselves to exhaustion, and an integrity to the people we serve. We also organise that we might grow (adding capacity) - but that is different to preserving.
This is the Kingdom narrative that we follow. We encourage every member mission, and so for all to be involved in some way: giving financially, volunteering, identifying with our Kingdom initiatives.
Jesus finishes with a few words about the Kingdom in v28 - 30. He affirms the disciples as standing with him, and talks about the Kingdom responsibility they will have, eventually at his grand banquet table. In other words he is talking about honouring and vindicating them. This is the same principle of Jesus going to the cross and God raising Him - if we put ourselves out for Him then He will see us through. The question is ... will you join? Will you swap narratives and put others first, joining us in this crazy Kingdom ministry that upsets the world order? Doing it because you trust Jesus, and glimpse enough to see that he will see you through.