Saturday, June 25, 2011

Your Ranking in Christ

“Very Truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.” John 13:16

            You know, Jesus and his fellowship is an interesting bunch. All these people are following Jesus and serving him. They are going out on mission trips, feeding the hungry, listening to Jesus’ unique sermons, and healing people. Yet, in this chapter, Jesus reveals something very profound concerning leadership. Jesus shows his disciples that ultimately there really is no ranking in his fellowship. Jesus was their leader; however, he served his disciples more than they served him. Think about that for a second.  In this chapter, Jesus who is the savior and head of God’s kingdom got on his hands and knees to wash the feet of those who are under him. Think of it in this context; imagine the president coming to your house to help you pay bills, or your teacher going to your house to tutor you personally. It is a week comparison, but it does the trick.
            When you look at leadership in the bible, you notice that the higher you go up in “rank” the more service you perform. Jesus is the ultimate example; however, King David is a good one to. He led his people in every battle and served their every need to the best of their abilities. In John 13, after Jesus washed his disciples’ feet, he told them to do likewise. In Timothy, Paul writes about leadership of the church and all these functions like Deacon and Elder; these were positions of serving. These job descriptions were to look after the flock of the church. They are to teach and meet the needs of the congregation. Christianity is unique in that regard. I am not sure if any other religion has that. Concerning leadership, most religions to my knowledge have the chief function of serving their gods by offering sacrifices or doing deeds to benefit themselves or their deity. However, Christianity is different. The Christian leader is called to serve the people under him. In doing this, they are following the command of God, and thus serving Him. Also something unique unlike any other religion is that the God of the universe still serves us and meets our daily needs because he loves us.
This devotion is for the leadership out there. I just want to encourage you and remind you what leadership ultimately is. Leadership is not about you; it is about the people you are serving. The pastor of a church should not think about himself; he preaches for the benefit of those who are listening. If you are some small group leader, your concern is for the group, and your goal should be trying to get them closer to God. Don’t lose sight of this. Jesus says this best after he washes his disciples’ feat: “I have set an example that you should do as I have done for you”- John 13:15. Now lets go serve some people.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Dedication without Understanding

Then Thomas said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” –John 11:16

            We all have doubts and don’t understand the ways of God. Some people say that they will not follow God because they just don’t get “it”. They don’t understand qualities about him or certain concepts like the trinity. Some might say that they don’t believe in miracles and so forth. This is one reason why I really enjoy reading about Thomas. In this chapter, Jesus was saying that he was going to raise some guy from the dead. It had been over 4 days since this guy died. The disciples did not understand what he was talking about. Jesus’ words went right over their heads. They just kept nagging Jesus saying that people were going to kill him and he was in danger. Then my man Thomas steps up and says something like “You know what, let us also go with him that we may die alongside him.” Later on in the bible Thomas doubted that Jesus would be raised from the dead. All throughout the gospels he had these doubts. History calls this man Doubting Thomas, yet he is the one who was willing to die for Jesus.
            It is just mind blowing that Thomas was willing to go that far for someone he did not understand. This is an awesome example of faith. In the world of college, students want to know everything there is to know about everything. Many claim that they will not follow something that they can’t rap their minds around. However, Thomas had no problem. I am not exempt from having doubts; however, I want the faith and dedication that Thomas had. He did not understand Jesus, but he was willing to die for him. Christian tradition says that Thomas brought the good news of Jesus to India and was mutilated for it. This guy died a martyrs death. Do you have that much dedication? I challenge you, even though you may have doubts, continue to follow Jesus. We will never be able to understand God; he is mysterious and his ways are not ours. Being a Christian is a process of stretching on every level of existence: mental, spiritual, emotional, and even physical. Don’t just drop it because you have a lingering doubt.
            If you are one that this devo does not apply to, go out and practice loving someone then =) .

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Comfort in Knowing

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me- just as the father knows me and I know the father- and I lay down my life for the sheep” John 10:14-15

            I must be honest; it has been a while since I have written down my devotional. It has honestly been a while since I even had one. I read this verse last night and it was really soothing. Throughout Jesus’ teachings, he keeps referring to his followers as sheep. Sheep are probably one of the dumbest creatures on the planet. I remember when I was helping an elderly person with his farm he had a group of my friends take care of his sheep. They are really stupid animals. I remember a few in particular that got their head caught in the fence. The animals also only look at the ground; consequently, they ram their heads into everything.
            Jesus constantly talks about these animals. He speaks about them needing a Shepard. Once they have a one, they will only follow his/her voice. Jesus claims to be a Shepard to a flock of sheep. His sheep are his followers. It might at first sound like an insult due to the belittling statement; however, it is actually a blessing. The Shepard cares for his sheep because it is his livelihood. John 10:14-15 takes this occupation even further. Jesus knows us on such a deep level. He compares knowing us to his knowledge of God. Think about that last statement for a second. This Jesus claimed to know what his Father was doing at all times. He even claimed to be God. If he knows God, think about the depth of how he knows us. He knows everything about us. He knows our sins, motivations, flaws, struggles, heart, hurts, etc. When we walk away from God or struggle with some closet sin, Jesus still knows. Our Shepard knows who we are and yet he lays down his life for us. He is there for us and calling for us. When a sheep is sick, its Shepard takes care of it. When it is lost the Shepard will go out of his way to find it.
            There is this story of this guy in the Old Testament about losing 2 of his sheep, he traveled from town to town to find it. King David used to be a Shepard and he fought off bears, wolves, and lions for his sheep. Jesus does even greater things. This might sound awkward, but the bond between a Shepard and his sheep is something incredible. Likewise, the bond between Jesus and his followers is so immense and so intertwined with love and longing that it is almost impossible to describe. So take heart everyone. Your Shepard understands; he is with you and is always ready for you to call on him. He will travel to the ends of the earth and back just for you. I hope this encouraged you today. Don’t forget.