By Chris Martin
Perhaps the central theme of the Christian faith, the simplest ingredient of the gospel, is the giving up of one’s self for another. The Son of God, Jesus the Christ, gave himself up to a death He did not deserve so that we, people who deserve eternal death, would be released from its grip.
When we think about our own lives as Christians, we may be tempted to believe that one of the primary ways we could “be like Jesus” would be to physically take a bullet for a loved one, to trade our life to save the life of another. But is that all there is to it?
One way we can worship God is by moving beyond our tendency to focus on ourselves, to die daily to our selfish ways. The apostle Paul said we should “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility, consider others better than [ourselves]. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3–4). As image-bearers of God, we bring Him glory when we consider the needs of others in this way.
In Mark 10, the disciples James and John are concerned with whether or not they will be permitted to sit at Jesus’s right and left hand in glory. Jesus explains the upside-down nature of power to them, that the weakest shall be the strongest and the greatest among them must be a slave to all. Then He tells them, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (v.45).
Notice Jesus says, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served,” as if to say, “If I, the literal Son of God, came to earth with the purpose of putting others before myself, you’d better believe your job is to serve others too.”
So why do we serve others? To make them feel good? To make us feel better about ourselves?
No, making everyone “feel good” isn’t usually at the root of Christian service. We serve others because Christ served us, and when we serve others, we are giving them a glimpse at what He is like. This is what it means to “glorify God.” In a sinful world full of people obsessed with fulfilling their own appetites, how otherworldly it must look when Christians are most concerned with helping others!
Whether we’re teaching children’s Sunday school classes or bringing in the groceries or opening the door for a stranger—as God’s creation, we bear His image to a watching world. May we do it well, not out of duty, but from a heart bent toward worshiping our Creator.
Written by Chris Martin