For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves. (Luke 22:27 NASB)
We like to think of ourselves as becoming like Jesus. After all, who led a more noble life than he did? We admire his compassion, gentleness, perseverance, and purity — all of his respectable qualities. But, Christ's own testimony about himself was, "I am among you as one who serves." (Luke 22:27) We can't leave out this part of Christ's character. If we are not becoming better servants of both God and man, we are not becoming more like Jesus. (Ray Hoo, "Turn Your World Upside Down," Discipleship Journal: Issue 10, 1999. Electronic ed. Colorado Springs: The Navigators/NavPress.)
Serving is no fun!
A teen class once sat around a table planning a special event for the older folks at church. It involved preparing a fun meal with a menu that purposely disguised everything. From the eating utensils to dessert, everything had funny names. The idea was to get people to put in their "order" for a four-course meal. Each course had to be selected from the menu, but nobody really knew what they ordered. You might end up not getting your fork until the fourth course! You might have to improvise and eat your mashed potatoes with your pickle spear! Then came the blow. The teens were to serve each of the four courses and clean up afterwards. One said, "We have to serve?"
There are lots of practical reasons, of course. Serving takes time and effort. It almost always means doing something that somebody else wants done, and doing it their way! Serving usually interferes with our normal routine, or it requires us to set aside something we'd rather be doing. Serving has a bad habit of putting us into things that we find undesirable, doing things for people we'd rather not be doing it for, and generally making us wish we were doing something else. Serving often means we end up in other people's messes. It means we get dirty, sweaty, and smelly. Serving, by its nature, is on the low side of things. There are countless practical reasons for us to dislike serving.
It all makes Jesus hard to explain — at least from the practical point of view. Yet, there he was having come into the world as the preeminent servant. Think about that phrase, for it is something of a misnomer. Still, it describes Jesus well. As his disciples, we've been called to serve. It is the more difficult job. It is the least thankful job. It is the one most do not want. Still want the job?