Much of the teaching of Jesus has been called “upside down theology.” He taught and practiced the reverse of the world’s standards. Jesus advocated humility and servanthood as ways to greatness in the kingdom of God. In worldly kingdoms, greatness is measured by the one who finishes first, comes out on top, makes the most money, scores off the other person. The world has little use for the wimp who lets others get the best of them. The servant figure in the Bible is one who has humility. Jesus turned it into a position of triumph. In several places in the New Testament, the word associated with the servant role translates as “apron,” the garment the servant wore around the waist, a type of uniform that identified the servant as one in a submissive, obedient role. We get a picture of Jesus with a towel or apron around his waist, washing the feet of his disciples. We don’t literally wear an apron or a uniform that identifies us as servants. It must come from our inward attitude, rather than our outward appearance.
Many times we become cynical about our servanthood. We may feel that what we do doesn’t do any good, that people don’t appreciate it, that those we try to help don’t change for the better, that they often squander what we give them. Why continue to waste our efforts? Surely God doesn’t expect us to keep throwing ourselves away on such people. Surely God does. The question Jesus asked of the two disciples in Matthew 18—”are you able?—applies to us as well. To the disciples the question referred to the suffering and persecution they would endure. But are we able to give of ourselves in service to others when we don’t always see the results we hope for? The results are in God’s hands, and they are two-fold. God will bless our efforts in God’s way and God’s time. And God will bless us for our efforts, if our attitude and our motives are right. This is another wonderful thing about the “upside down” kingdom. Our reward comes not here, but hereafter. And Jesus said we can get there by being like little children.
- In what ways should we be like little children?
- How can we rid ourselves of cynicism when we feel our efforts are unappreciated?
- Christians, like children, are vulnerable and can be hurt. Can we protect ourselves against this?
- Finds ways you can help people, such as an elderly couple who may need minor repairs around their house, or a caregiver for a terminally ill person who could use a few hours of relief.
- Check the condition of children’s play equipment in Sunday school rooms or on the playground of your church. Does it need painting or repair work? Schedule a time to work on it, and enlist members of your family to help.
- Look for projects you can do as a family. This teaches your children about service and allows you to work together.