“… whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.” (Mark 10:43-44)
This verse had been bothering me for quite some time. Jesus says, “Whoever wants to become great must become the least of all.” Why is Christianity so selfish? I thought. Why need we be the least when at the end, it only serves to achieve this goal of becoming great? Why is it so manipulative? Why want to be great at all? Why doesn’t Jesus say: don’t seek to be great but be servants, and don’t seek to be first but be slave of all? Or why not omit the first few words—isn’t this better: you must be servants, you must be slave of all?
But as I pondered on this verse, I felt that it was my thinking that was not right.
Whoever wants to become great must be the least. There is nothing selfish with Jesus’ words. If I want to become great, I must be the least. But if in my journey of being the least, I keep thinking that I am doing this for the sake of becoming great, will I ever be the least? No, I won’t. If I am still thinking of becoming great, it does nothing but prove that I am not yet a servant. I am not yet the least of all. And to someone like me, Jesus says, “be a servant.” I am not there yet. If I am there, I will know nothing of becoming great, for if I am still thinking of becoming great, I am not yet there. I am not yet a servant. And again Jesus says, “Be a servant.”
My goal is becoming great. All right, so you want to become great. The only way to achieve that goal, Jesus says, is to be the least. So there I am, working to be the least, while keeping my eye on that goal of becoming great. But as I journey on, instead of seeing my goal clearer as I approach it, I am losing more and more sight of it. When I am having clearer sight of it, I realise I am not journeying forward. But when I am losing more and more sight of it, I know I am getting nearer to that goal. But then, what is a goal that is not seen? But, unless I see it not, I won’t reach it. But, how can I know where I am going if I don’t see my goal?
Is it like walking in direction opposite to that goal? I think it is. The only way to journey forward is to journey backward. The further I am from that goal, the nearer I am to … I have no goal! I won’t know anymore where my goal is. But at least I know something: that I don’t know where my goal is. And this is the only necessary thing for me to know another thing: that I have arrived—not at that goal, but at a place beyond that goal.
“… whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:4)
Speaking about maturity, I think the same principle applies. Those who want to be mature must be childlike. But again, if I know that I must be childlike and that I do this in order to be mature, as long as I am being childlike for the sake of being mature, I am not yet childlike.
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- April 6, 2005 / 09:54
- Christian living