Article 13: Letters from the desk of a Great-Grandfather
WHO IS THE GREATEST?
"All our NHS staff should be given a medal." So say the media, and who could disagree, after months of twelve-hour shifts sharing a room with a deadly disease and pouring out care and attention on very sick people. The problem is how far do you extend the medals? Doctors and nurses, surely, but what about assistants, porters, cleaners, admin staff, caterers? And then we could get on to others putting themselves at risk of infection; checkout assistants, bin men, teachers not to mention all the staff in care homes.
One thing we have learned during this time is the value of so called "lesser roles". They are all important, all necessary and we rely on them all. Just like the Church, society is an interdependent arrangement. In the Church, we all have our individual giftings and abilities, each different but all essential for a healthy society. And none can say to the others, " I am more important/greater than you, we don't need you." The trouble is, we tend to grade abilities and functions just like we grade sins. There are the dreadful things that others do, all the way down to the insignificant errors that I very occasionally commit. Preaching is far more important than cleaning the church toilets: being a church leader more important than being a children's worker. When we pastored churches, folk would come to us asking for an opportunity to "exercise their gift" in the congregation, but it was never the gift of chair arrangement or cleaning up!
Here's the thing. Jesus has a different set of values and the keyword is "Servant". He said that the greatest among us is the one who serves the most, not who preaches well or prophesies accurately.
A Christian, roughly speaking, is someone who recognises and knows Jesus as Saviour and Lord, the crucified, risen and glorified Son of God, and who is also seeking to follow his lifestyle of love and servanthood. As a young Christian back in the day, it was all about convincing others of their need for personal faith and salvation .... all Romans and Galatians. But today we are being shown even by those outside the Church, that a serving lifestyle is very, very important too.
"Our streets are not empty. They are filled with the love and care that we have for each other." (HM the Queen). The Kingdom of God seems to be springing up everywhere and we need to be in the lead. There used to be a joke in some Christian circles, "When they say that you've got a servant heart, it's not praise - they want you to put out the chairs". But in fact, it is high praise. There is no greater calling or personal challenge than to a life of servanthood, and there are no exceptions. None of us can say, " It's not my job." Ending on a sobering note, Jesus doesn't have a high opinion of those who can give help to needy people but don't carry it out. Those who talk the talk but don't walk the walk.
Read Matthew 26 for yourselves. How's that for motivation?
Keep alert. Keep battling on. Keep your distance. Keep serving.