Weíve had a wonderful week in Vacation Bible School. I want to thank Dana Stevenson and her wonderful crew of volunteers who have made this week so special for so many kids. Our theme this week has been ďGodís Big Back Yard,Ē and throughout the week the kids have learned about serving.
There are many things that our kids are being taught today and many who are willing to teach them. The list of folks who are teaching young people today are legion. There are parents who spend time with their kids teaching them what is important to their family. Teachers spend time with our kids each day in their schools. There are influences, both positive and negative, in our kidís neighborhoods that spend time teaching them whatís important to them. Coaches teach our kids about how to play their particular sport. There are also men and women in churches all across this city that have a desire to teach kids about Godís love and what it means to be a follower of Jesus. If you and I were to compile a list of the top ten lessons that our kids are learning I would dare say that being a ďservantĒ would not be on the list.
Parents, mentors, teachers, coaches, and friends spend much more time teaching kids how to throw a perfect spiral, hit a fastball, make a dollar or an ďA,Ē how to get ahead, or do their chores than we spend on teaching kids how to be a servant. I believe with all of my heart that we are missing out on one of the most important lessons that we can teach our kidsóserve.
I want to take you to a story that is recorded in Markís Gospel this morning to illustrate the battle that was going on in Jesusí time and which continues to our day today. Jesusí disciples had the greatest opportunity of anyone who had ever lived to learn what was important to God. After all, they spent three years of their lives eating, drinking, sleeping, and traveling day-in and day-out with Jesus, who was God in the flesh. After spending all of that time listening to Jesus teach, watching Him live each day, and observing the contrast between how the world does things and how Jesus did thingsóthey still didnít get it. Letís read our Scripture found in Mark 10:35-45.
35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.” 36″What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. 37 They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.” 38 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?” 39 “We can,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, 40 but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.” 41 When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. 42 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 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.” (Mark 10:35-45 NIV)
This story, from the life of Jesus, paints for us in the clearest colors, the stark contrast between what we want out of life and what God desires for us in life. James and John went to Jesus and said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.” Isnít that still what we want from God today? We are not nearly as concerned about Godís will for our lives as we are about God fulfilling our desires for our lives. ďJust do whatever we ask God and everything will be just fine.Ē What did James and John want from Jesus? Well, of course they wanted what would benefit them. We read in Mark 10:37,
37 They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.” (Mark 10:37 NIV)
James and John wanted the place of honor next to Jesus once Jesus was crowned King. They pulled Jesus to the side before any of the other disciples could get to Him and asked Him if they could have the best seat in the house. How, after spending so much time with Jesus, did they learn that ďfirstĒ was best? How, after watching Jesus give of Himself to so many, did they learn that ďselfĒ was most important? The truth of those questions is that they didnít learn those things from Jesus. The desire to have what we want, for us to be first, is innate within each of usóit is part of our sin nature. Jesus had to have been disappointed as He listened to what James and John were saying. What did He do? How would He respond to James and John? Scripture says that He called all of them togetherónot just James and John, but all of the disciples. Look at Mark 10:42-44 with me.
42 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. (Mark 10:42-44 NIV)
Jesus called all of His disciples together to teach them. Jesus used James and Johnís selfish ambition as a springboard to teach His disciples the difference between what is important to the people of the world and what is important to God. What is important to the world? Power, popularity, position, and privilege would have to be at the top of the list donít you think? ďI want what I want and I want it now!Ē is the mantra of the modern-day. Jesus took the time to point out to His disciples that this mantra, alive and well in His own day, was far from what God desired for His people. Jesus told His followers that the way of the Gentiles, using their power, position, and privilege over others, is not the way of Godís people.
Jesus said, ďIf you want to be great then you must become a servant. If you want to be first, then you must become a servant.Ē What does it mean to become a servant? That is a great question. Paul wrote to the people of Philippi and he told them,
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:3-8 NIV)
To be a servant means that you put the needs of others above those of your own. To be a servant means that you donít have to be first, you donít have to be the greatest. It means that you work to bless the lives of others instead of looking to be blessed. To be a servant means that you donít have to try to work your way into the company of the most popular kids at schoolóit means that you befriend those that nobody else wants to hang out with at lunch. To be a servant means that you look for ways to bless your neighbors, even those who arenít so neighborly. To be a servant means that you donít worry nearly as much about your time as you think about His purpose for your life. To be a servant means that you welcome your own discomfort so that God can use you to bring comfort to others.
You can look around you to try and find models to emulate in life, but I want to urge you to look to Jesus. As Jesus was preparing to go to the cross He gathered with His disciples for the Passover Feast. John tells us the story in John 13:1-5.
1 It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love. 2 The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. (John 13:1-5 NIV)
The King of gloryóthe servant of all. If Jesus lived His life based upon His power or position He would have never picked up the towel and tub of water and began to wash the nasty feet of His disciples. But remember, Jesus said His mission in life was not be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many. We are called to follow in His steps.
Do you know the wonderful thing about being a servant? Everyone is welcome, the opportunity is presented to everyone here this morning. If we were looking for scientists then that would rule some of us out. If we were looking for millionaires then that would rule most of us out. If we were looking for great athletes then that would eliminate many of us. God is not looking for any of these, but He is looking for servants and therefore you are all invited to take up the towel and the basin of water before you leave here this morning and begin to wash the feet of those around you. Martin Luther King Jr. once said,
You donít have to have a college degree to serve. You donít have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You donít have to know Plato and Aristotle. You donít have to know Einsteinís theory of relativity. You donít have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.
This past week our leaders have been teaching our kids about one of the greatest lessons in lifeóservanthood. I want to encourage you parents who are with us this morning to continue what our leaders have begun. Some of you may be wondering, ďHow can I do that? I donít know too much about the Bible. Iím not really sure I know that much about being a servant. How can I continue to teach my kids?Ē That is a great question and I want to give you two suggestions.
First of all, go to Godís Word and use the story of Jesusí life to teach them about what it means to be a servant. There is no greater example. Read the Gospels with your kids, take time to point out how Jesus served those around Him, how He made time for others, and how He blessed those around Him. God encouraged His people in Deuteronomy 11:18-21 about how they could affect the lives of their kids for the Kingdom. Read along with me.
18 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 20 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, 21 so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the LORD swore to give your forefathers, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth. (Deuteronomy 11:18-21 NIV)
We should follow in their steps. Point your kids to the Word of God and especially to the life of Jesus.
Secondly, give them opportunities to learn the blessing of serving. Find ways that you can serve those around you and take your kids with you so that they can learn how to be a servant. This is our purpose for having Mission Sunday at BCC. Each month, on the second Sunday of each month, some of our adults join with our Middle School and High School kids and give up their morning worship so that they can go to the Indian Mission Church and serve. They meet here early on Sunday morning and prepare a meal for about 100 people, they make sack lunches for the people to take with them when they leave the mission, they lead the morning worship service, and nobody leaves the Indian Mission more blessed than our kids and their leaders. We canít teach our kids what it means to be a servant without giving them opportunities to serve. If we are serving alongside of our kids then the lessons will be learned in a much more powerful way.
These are the two key lessons you need to take home with you in order to teach your kids how to become a servant. Use Godís Word to teach them about the servant life of Jesus and set an example for young people as they serve alongside of you. After Jesus washed the feet of His disciples He said,
14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. (John 13:14-15 NIV)
The first step for anyone who desires to become a servant is to submit and surrender. We must surrender our hearts to Jesus and confess that we are in great need of His saving grace and mercy. Once Jesus comes to live in our hearts He will begin a work in us that is unexplainable. He will begin to transform us from selfish to servant. Wonít you invite Him in?
Britton Christian Church
922 NW 91st
OKC, OK. 73114
July 20, 2008