10. Someone, somewhere, or sometime when it is hard to.

17 12 2010

(I have been reflecting on the book, “The Bait of Satan” by John Bevere. Here are some thoughts from chapter 10)

Have you ever stopped and asked yourself how many things you do in a day are motivated by self-interest?  How many things do I do (or not do) to just further the cause of “me”? In this chapter, the author addresses this topic, picking up from the last chapter where He talked about how Jesus offended people and didn’t seem all that concerned about it.  In this chapter, He talks about the other side: all the times Jesus did what He could to NOT offend. It’s the flip side.

There were many times when Jesus went out of His way to not buck the system. Jesus walked in liberty, but lived as a servant. He knew when to call people on something, and when giving up that right was the better choice. In Matthew 18 (interesting that the whole chapter is dedicated to the topic of offenses) He says, “whoever humbles himself…is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (18:4).

“He owed no one anything; He was subject to no man. Yet He chose to use His liberty and freedom to serve” (119)

The New Testament, the writer Paul says that we have been “called to liberty” but that we are to use that liberty to serve one another (Galatians 5:3). The author writes, “another word for liberty is privilege.” We are not to use our privilege to serve ourselves, but to serve others” (120).

I just have to pause here. I have been a Christian for a long while, and sometimes when I hear phrases repeated over and over, they translate like this: “blah, blah, blah.” I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but haven’t we heard a zillion times that we are not to serve ourselves but serve others. I wonder how effective all those appeals have been? I can only look at myself: Sure, I serve others; but if I were turned inside out…

Isn’t it easy to serve the way I want, and the people I want, when I want, as much or as little as I want? And then there is this issue of offense. Jesus walked this line so beautifully. He spoke truth, but sometimes He didn’t. I don’t mean that He lied, I just mean He didn’t say everything He could have. He continued to teach and love people in hostile environments (including His temple). He worshiped with people who wanted His neck. He paid taxes even in corrupt systems. He knew all, He knew the unbelief, knew the mixed motives and He just kept loving people and serving people in those environments. Am I this secure in Christ that I can do likewise, without hidden resentment?

Do I have what it takes to serve – purely – when it takes all I have to wrestle my attitude to the ground so that I am finally willing to serve someone or somewhere or sometime when it’s HARD to? When I am a touch offended or when they are a touch offended? Do I?

Jesus understood serving, lived serving, so perfectly. He knew how to replenish His spirit so He could keep giving. He knew how to give people the best of Himself but not get it mixed up with people-pleasing. He knew how to walk in freedom and not assert His rights at the same time. This is such a large part of serving; appropriateness. Gentleness. Willingness.

When Jesus offended others, it was out of obedience to His Father, never to demand his own rights or serve His self-interest. His goal always came out in the things He pursued: “the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another” (Romans 14:19). He did not seek to profit himself but to glorify God.

Glorify God; Isn’t that something so easy to say but if you stare at those two words, I mean really stare at them…do we do this? In thought, in word, in deed, in the way we relate to others, in the way that we seek to not offend are we always looking at people, at circumstances and then back to God and then back to people and circumstances; you know, constantly measuring our response by His?

As I end this post, I can almost hear it: a huge collective exhale as the Church releases its rights and opens its hands to truly glorify God in the way it serves.

— Teresa Klassen

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