Jeremy Wray, BJU Alumnus
They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest. Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”
With this statement and through his life of obedience, Jesus redefined first, exemplified last, and served each of us in his gospel mission.
How did Jesus redefine being first?
First is not being noticed or well loved, rich or well-bred (Mark 10:25). First is not being the best in your field or the quickest and brightest. First is willing to go unnoticed. First is staying until the end to clean up. First is doing good when no one is watching. First is not having most ready opinion or well-timed response. First is not the leader in the front of the auditorium or the person to pass the finish line before anyone else. First is not overcoming all the obstacles and standing proudly at the top of the stack. First is not being seen. Jesus says that first is being last. He redirects the disciples thinking and redefines the term.
What did last place look like?
Would you rather look like a servant or be a servant? Jesus did not only redefine what first looks like—He also exemplified what being last feels like. He took a spot at the back of the line. He suffered greatly and endured lots of pain. He was rejected by his own hometown crowd, all because He wasn’t afraid to be viewed as less for the sake of the kingdom (Mark 6:4). He knew how to go unnoticed and under-appreciated. He spent nights with nowhere to lay his head. He knew that God’s kingdom was not made up of the best and the brightest, but rather full of those who had faith like children. He knew that it was those who lose their lives for the sake of the gospel are the ones that would truly find it (Mark 8:35). Jesus took the last place so that he could provide our salvation, healing, and cleansing.
So, what does this have to do with a CGO blog?
I am still figuring that out myself, but I wanted Jesus to have the first and loudest voice in the conversation regarding our “ministries” and “service projects” (Mark 9:7). Where we may be caught up in thoughts of success and popularity, Jesus reminds us that people who think that way end up last in the kingdom. Let that thought strike you. Even if we are brilliant, brave, and beautiful, without humility and a servant’s heart we won’t be the first to enter the kingdom of God.
These words from the Servant also remind us that the life of a disciple is essentially a life of service. What steps are you currently taking to be the last place in service to others? When do you serve others in the gospel mission? For you, is putting others’ needs before your own a casual obligation or a life-long commitment?
What might this look like?
The best place to do this while in college may very well be outside of your college campus. The most enduring and sanctifying lessons I learned while in undergrad were not sitting at a desk and taking notes on a laptop. They were at Saturday morning Bible Club. These times were especially important because they required me to get outside of myself—outside of my cozy space and out of the ever-growing line on campus to be noticed. These times of outreach allowed me to connect my life to others who needed physical, emotional, and spiritual good news. I was allowed the opportunity to share the good news to boys and girls who may not have heard it otherwise (even in Greenville, SC!).
The value of outreach is in the name. These are outings, events, and conversations where you get to reach out to others with the same love, kindness, and mercy God has reached out to you. Christian, you need times where you are filled up with spiritual truths and encouragements. But equal to this need is the one to share what has been shared with you (Phil. 2:1-4). We are not meant to spend God’s extensive grace on ourselves, but rather on others (Eph. 4:32). The lost community surrounding us is the best candidate for our focus. They need the truth that shines in their darkness. They need unconditional love that does not require reciprocation. They need your life because they have not shared yet in Christ’s.
Participating in an outreach is valuable because you get to experience Christ’s heart rather than just being educated on it. Whether it takes place in nursing homes, rehab centers, the projects, or detention centers, Christ’s disciples should bring Christ’s words to action—anyone who wants to be first must be the very last and the servant of all.
End the argument of who is the greatest and embark on your journey by remembering that Jesus redefined first, exemplified last, and served each of us in the gospel mission.
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The CGO Blog
Written by the CGO staff, with guest posts from students and other faculty/staff at BJU to provide thought leadership for missions in a new millennium.