Christ: The Model for Ministry and Service

Here are some things I’ve been wrestling with lately.

This might be obvious, but the person of Christ is our model in service and ministry.

From John 1:

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

How can we “dwell among” our neighbors as fellow travelers in order to see transformation in their lives?

Or, consider this passage from Philippians 2:

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&emdash;
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.

Jesus left the “success” and “greatness” of living in community with God and the Holy Spirit in Heaven to become one of us so that he could exemplify the redeemed life and continue to unveil God’s reign. How can we deny our ideas of “success” and “greatness” to take on the very nature of servants with the people we encounter?

I think we see Jesus meeting people on their turf &emdash; Zacchaeus, for example &emdash; to walk with them as they experienced life transformation. I’m convinced that we need to seriously consider how we more effectively and compassionately walk with people as they begin to trust Christ and let Him help them up out of the bondage they are experiencing.

I would suggest that little life transformation can happen with people outside of the context of relationship. Can we really chunk gospel seeds from afar and expect people’s lives to change? If this was possible, wouldn’t God have done this with us? Are we willing to, on some level, “become flesh” with people in order that they might experience holistic transformation in their lives?

Furthermore, can we begin to see our neighbors more for their assets than for their needs? To a large degree, these are people who have something to offer this world and desire dignity and purpose, but many of them have never been told they have worth and something to offer.

Jesus did this, though, didn’t he? I love the story of Zacchaeus, a conniving and broken man. He was in a tree searching for Jesus, not unlike many people we come in contact with. Jesus didn’t scold him immediately for his previous actions, but said, in a sing-songy voice, I’m sure, “I’m-a-comin’ to your house to-day.” It was in the context of sharing a meal &emdash; one of the most intimate activities in the ancient world &emdash; that Jesus challenged Zacchaeus about a “different way.” He acknowledged Zacchaeus’ worth. He maintained his dignity. And as a result, life transformation occurred.

I am praying for more Christ-like eyes to see all people — rich, middle-class, and poor — with his eyes.

Will you join me in this prayer and on this journey?

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