Friday, April 12, 2013

The Vision (4/11/13): The Redefinition of Greatness

Note:  Last Sunday I preached from Luke 9:46-50 on Christ’s “redefinition of greatness.”  Here are some of the notes from the closing applications from the passage:

1.     Have you sought greatness for yourself according to the pattern of this world?


In Jeremiah 45:5 the prophet Jeremiah wrote to his young friend Baruch saying, “And seekest thou great things for thyself?  Seek them not” (Jeremiah 45:5).


The American poet Emily Dickenson lived largely in obscurity as a recluse and had very little of her writings published in her lifetime.  In one poem titled “Success” she wrote the opening couplet:


Success is counted sweetest

By those who ne’er succeed.


In that poem I think she was pondering and even lamenting her lack of success or greatness.  This same sort of angst was in the hearts of the disciples of Jesus.


Do you see Jesus placing a weak child beside himself and saying, “As you serve this weakest brother you are in fact serving me, and if you serve me, you serve the God who sent me, the God who made you and all the creation.  If you will empty yourself of all pride and all ambition and all self-seeking and become the least of all, you will become the greatest in my kingdom.”?


2.      Do you have a charitable and a catholic (small “c” meaning “universal”) spirit toward those who love the Lord Jesus and are doing things that serve him, even if they do not inhabit your ecclesiastical circle?


Do you hear this in Jesus’ command to John concerning the one casting out demons in Jesus’ name who was not one of the twelve:  “Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.”? (Luke 9:50).


Do you understand that this is not a call to drop or compromise your convictions or to hold them less tightly, but, in fact, to hold firmly onto those convictions, even while respecting those who also know Jesus and are working for him but whose conviction have led them to be part of a churchly fellowship apart from one’s own?


What matters is not whether you control them, but whether Christ controls them.


3.      Do you see how Jesus has redefined greatness and how he has redefined power?


The apostle Paul certainly did.  This is why he could write:  “and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ” (Philippians 3:8). Or:  “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake:  for when I am weak, then I am strong” (1 Corinthians 12:10).


Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

1 comment:

Phil Brown said...

Thank you for the reminder. This is helpful.