The Divine Mystery exists in each of us. We are Stewards of that Mystery.
The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others.
These are the familiar words of Jesus as he is teaching near the end of the Gospel of Matthew. We may have read them as part of our devotions or listened to them in Sunday School or heard them recited from time to time in church.
What does Jesus mean when he says this?
Jesus is making clear a part of the message he has come to deliver. We are to become instruments in this world of the divine will, of grace, of all that is good and true and honorable and holy. We are to serve our Master, just as he says and does only what he hears his Master telling him to say and do.
In a royal realm, what matters most is to serve the will of the sovereign. The presumption is that the sovereign, either queen or king, is to be obeyed because a person in that position knows best. There are obvious problems when using that analogy strictly in an earthly sense, but Jesus wants us thinking about bringing the life where eternal principles reign into the temporal one where they are harder to find. When the disciples ask Jesus how to pray he instructs them to say, “Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” Jesus is letting us know, directly, that God’s will shall be followed wherever it is permitted to reign. It may not always be followed in this life, but there is a place and a time where it shall be followed by all who are present with God. Our job is to try to increase the frequency here.
At the heart of God is a will to serve. That shows up first inside the Trinity as each member of the Trinity serves the other. In Creation, that will to serve shows up in the form of the Spirit and the Son on behalf of the Father. The purpose of their presence is to help us become the kind of people who wish to exercise the divine will and in so doing, become ourselves, our true selves, the people that God has intended us to be all along.
We cannot become ourselves without God’s help. We cannot become more like God unless we imitate God. God serves us; it follows that when Jesus teaches us about serving each other, he is instructing us that we are actually doing it to and for God.
The next opportunity for service might be easier for us to undertake if we think we are doing it to God, disguised as our neighbor.
Questions of the day:
How willing am I to volunteer myself to God’s service, as I understand it? What effect does it have on me to say “yes” to this invitation? What is the effect when I say “no?”