Thursday, February 28, 2008

This weeks's Sabbath School lesson: called to serve

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2: 1-11, NIV).

Writing to a church marked by quarrels and power-struggles, Paul quotes a hymn -- a hymn about Christ's kenosis (or "emptying"). "Just as Christ set aside everything that kept him from serving God," says Paul, "so we should set aside everything that keeps us from serving each other."

It's this kenosis you'll be discussing in this week's lesson. Most of us have no problem with the idea of service, after all; it's just that we have a long list of reasons why we can't put this idea into practice at this time.

"I'm busy enough as it is," we say. "Besides -- I've already done my time. I'm suffering from burn-out. And isn't there something more important that I could be doing?"

No, we'll always have an excuse not to serve -- a good excuse, a legitimate excuse, an excuse that lets us off the hook every time.

Think of what happened, for instance, when somebody had to wash the feet of Christ's disciples. And yes, it needed to be done . . . but it could not be done without a serious loss of face; washing feet was so degrading that even a slave could not be told to do it -- not if that slave was Jewish.

So the disciples hemmed, and they hawed, and they muttered about their bad backs and their arthritis and their lumbago that had been acting up lately . . .

Until Jesus went ahead and did it himself.

That's the kind of God we serve -- and that's the way he wants us to serve others too.

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