One of the advantages of having a Bible reading plan is that you don’t only read the “greatest hits of scripture,” but also encounter passages that are downright difficult. The reality is, for every Philippians 4:13 and John 3:16 there are verses that are highly challenging. Verses that make us think and force us out of our comfort zones. In fact, sometimes we flat out what to ignore these verses. This may be because they go against our culture, seem strange to us, or are just simply incredibly difficult to live out. One such verse that runs incredibly counterculture today is Jesus audaciously telling us it’s better last than first.
And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” Mark 9:35
This seems innocuous at first, but really take a moment to soak it in. If you truly want to be a follower of Christ then Jesus is commanding that you a) count yourself less than everyone else and b) be willing to serve everyone else. Jesus is not only asking us to serve those that we are comfortable serving (i.e. people that are like us), but to be ready to serve ALL people. Think about that. Are you really willing to serve ALL people? Are you willing to serve people who differ politically from who, have made poor and sinful choices, have wronged you, have committed crimes, etc.? When push comes to shove many of us are more than hesitant to truly serve the least and the lost.
Let me be vulnerable for a moment. When I moved to rural Iowa to serve as an outreach pastor I thought I had a really open heart and mind for the least and lost. However, I soon found that to be far from true. While I enjoyed helping people like me (educated, middle class, and white), I struggled to help the least of our community (poor, often seemingly unwilling to work, recently imprisoned, etc.). I looked at many of them and thought “they’ve gotten themselves into this situation, so they can get themselves out.” However, that’s not how Jesus sees it. Jesus wants us to be part of the solution in helping the least and the lost emerge from the mire they are stuck in. This doesn’t mean we have to be ok with their sins and poor decisions. On the contrary, we are to help them transform those behaviors so that they become disciples of Christ.
In closing today I am reminded of the Great Commission. There Jesus tells us not to simply share about Him, or to do a good act here and there. Rather, He instructs us to make disciples. He urges us to help people become who God has made them to be. Who in your life represents the least and the lost? What can YOU be doing to disciple them?