I have this wood carving above the head of my bed. It was given to me on my 13th birthday. In bold font there is the word Leadership. Below the word Leadership is a phrase in smaller letters, “If you command wisely, you will be obeyed cheerfully”. And to the side in even smaller letters is a verse from the Bible, it comes from Luke 22:26, “The greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves”.
I have read this Luke 22 verse many times through out the years. It is the part out of the whole wood carving that impacts me the most. Why would Jesus say such a thing? We have seen many rulers in our history show their power through the fear and aw they have created in their followers, yet very few rulers have we seen be like servants to their people. It certainly does not seem we Christians see God in that way.
What I hear from most Christians about God is how powerful He is. I hear how aw inspired and fearful of God’s holiness we should be. God actually is described as a ruler who shows his power and holiness through His magnificent acts of destroying temples, parting seas, and creating plagues. The idea of a eternal Hell is used to lift God’s holiness up. We are expressed an God who can not bear to be in the presence of sin. We are shown a God, by most Christians, who will torment us for all eternity if we do not bow down and serve Him.
The image the Western Church has created for God confuses me to be honest. I do not understand how curtain qualities of God fit with our idea of the powerful holy God who can not bear the sight of sin. For example, how does God’s everlasting love fit into the idea of His powerful and holy wrath? Can a God be loving to us all if he sends most of us to a eternal punishment with no chance of escaping? Incredibly most Christians say yes. However, none have been able to explain to me how something like an eternal punishment is loving, they just claim it is.
I wish Christians understood the message they were spreading in regards to God’s holy wrath. I wish Christians understood how the message of God’s eternal punishment counters their message of God’s eternal love. Saying God loves us even though he will send most of us to a eternal punishment, is like saying a father is still loving to his son even if he throws him into the fire to be tormented forever. Any father who punishes his son in the way we believe God will punish non-Christians after they die, would be immediately locked away and called insane. Why does our criteria to what is wrong and right change when God comes into the mix?
I believe, like any dictator, God has the power to do anything he wants. Even though I would not consider God to be loving or just for throwing us into an eternal hell, He can do it if He wants to. He is God you know. I mean, why not? Why should we expect God not be any different then the many other kings and dictators that have come into this world and ruled with an iron fist?
The reason why I consider my God to be different is because I saw His example expressed on this earth in the form of a carpenter named Jesus.
Think about this for a second. Why would our almighty Ruler’s son come to this earth in the form of a carpenter and not a king? Why was it God’s son who told us to forgive our neighbors, take care of the sick, and love our enemies? Why did Jesus go among the people and perform many miracles? Why did Jesus, the son of our Holy and Powerful God, wash his disciples feet? And, why was it Jesus who was sacrificed on the cross and not us?
The greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.
Why do I freely choose to love Jesus? Because he first loved me. Why do I freely choose to serve Jesus? Because he first served me. Jesus was the representation of his Father God. He did not come here to condemn the world but to save it. Jesus expressed to us clearly the true power of his Father and it was not shown through temples falling down, seas parting, or plagues spreading, but rather through humility. God is our greatest servant. His commandments and His punishments are in service to us. God commands us so that we may be fulfilled. God punishes us so that we may see His love clearly.
The reason why this Luke 22 verse effects me so greatly is because it represents the heart of Jesus’ message. The verse represents the core of who I should be as a leader. My parents gave me the wood carving because they believed Leadership was a strength and calling in my life. It is amazing how humbling the idea of leadership has become for me. I pray that every step I make is in service to the people I lead. I pray I can be the kind of servant my God is towards me.
I can not express how thankful I am that the one who rules over all creation is the one who is creation’s greatest servant.