SNAPSHOTS OF THE SAVIOR
It’s a Spa, Spa World
February 28-29, 2004
Every time you get a family Christmas card, the wife always looks like a supermodel. The husband can have his eyes closed and drool coming out of his mouth. It doesn’t matter; as long as she looks good, she’s going to use that card. “I like that one, honey. We’re going to use that card,” and there’s no discussion.
We laugh. These are snapshots, you know, of our me-istic mentality, aren’t they? We all have that uncanny ability to promote our self, to think about our self. It’s this me, my, and mine mentality that permeates our culture.
I think about marriage. So many people bail out of marriages because of self-centeredness, because of this me, my, mine mentality. “I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do. I’ve got to meet my needs. You’re not turning me on anymore.”
People in the corporate world claw their way to the top just to get to that level to make their money, to do their thing. Think about the realm of athletics. Two decades ago, someone would score a touchdown and the guy would just toss the ball to the ref. Now someone scores, and they’re picking up cell phones or dancing. It’s all about “me.” We have a SPA mentality, a self-promoting attitude that dominates everywhere we look.
The Oscars are going to be on soon. The Oscars—what an ego fest! Only the Hollywood crowd has egos big enough to vote on each other and give each other awards for greatness. And we put it on television and all of us watch it. We’re me-istic. We have a congenital disease called self-centeredness.
I’ll just be frank with you. I’m a self-centered person. Naturally, I’m a selfish person and so are you. Why? This thread, this self-centeredness is common throughout every culture. Why? Well, the roots of this self-centeredness go all the way back to the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were deferring to one another. They were serving one another because they were serving God. God placed a tree in the middle of the garden and said, “Don’t touch the fruit on the tree.”
The serpent came in, the evil one, and tempted these people. They sinned. They were convicted of their sin. They felt the guilt and the pain and the shame. They tried to play hide and seek with God. “God, you count. We’ll hide.” And what happened after that? Well, they began to make excuses. God said, “You sinned.” And Adam said, “No, no. The woman made me do it.” Eve said, “No, no, no. The serpent made me do it.”
And that’s what I do to cover up my self-centeredness. That’s what I do to cover up my me-istic mentality. I say, “You know, I’m not being belligerent. I’m just a strong-willed guy. I’m not being self-serving, you know. I just want what’s best, you know”
And we make all these excuses up to cover our tracks. The person of Christ, though, confronts us. Jesus is highly confrontational and he’s highly controversial because he exposes our self-centeredness. He exposes this SPA, this self-promoting attitude that all of us have. In the natural, there is no way we can live a life of service. In the natural, there’s no way we can put other’s needs up as more important than the needs we think of when we think of ourselves.
Well, Jesus comes along and Jesus tells us to become servants. Jesus says that we should treat other people more importantly than we treat ourselves. We should hold them in a higher esteem than we do ourselves. And when that happens, when we think about that statement, what occurs? A war breaks out. A war breaks out in your life and mine—a war between self-centeredness and servant hood, a war between selfishness and generosity. In the natural, we can never discover what Christ wants. In the supernatural, though, he promises me that I can discover what it means to truly walk in servanthood.
Last time, I kicked off a brand new series called “Passion—Snapshots of the Savior.” I said that Jesus has different snapshots of his life and there are many different pictures, many different images of Christ. Sadly, most of us carry around an incomplete photo album of the nature and character of the Lord. We might have a picture of him in the manger, a picture of him on the cross, and a picture of him rising again. Maybe you’ve seen this movie, “The Passion of the Christ.” Now you have a vivid picture of the last twelve hours of Jesus’ life, which I think is awesome. But most of us don’t have a complete photo album on who Jesus is.
Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus is passionate about identifying with us, and we talked about that last week. Christ had a job. He went through pain and suffering. He was involved in relationships. And because of all that, we have this connectivity with him. We don’t serve a sequestered Savior. We serve someone who we can identify with.
Today, we’re going to find out that Jesus was passionate about something else. He was passionate about servanthood. He was passionate about making people like you and me into servants. This is done in a supernatural way, and we’re going to talk about that supernatural way. But again, I go back to my self-centeredness and my selfishness because every time I read verses from the Gospels where, where Christ is challenging me to be a servant, these verses haunt me. They mess me up. They get in my face because I’m a self-centered guy. I’m a selfish guy. I’m a natural born sinner, and so are you.
A while back, the dogs were getting out of our fence. So without Lisa suggesting anything to me, I jumped out of my truck, walked into our garage and picked up Lisa’s toolbox…I mean, my toolbox. I was thinking to myself, “You know what? I’m going to serve everyone by just doing something that, you know, a lot of good people do. I’m going to fix the fence. I’m not going to call attention to it. I’m not going to tell anybody I’m doing it. I’m just going to do it out of the kindness of my heart.”
So I had my toolbox and I was walking toward the fence and I thought, “You know what—I just couldn’t stand it—I’m going to walk by the kitchen window because I know Lisa is preparing dinner. I just can’t serve by myself. I’ve got to have someone applauding me.” So as I walked by, Lisa looked at me, and I pointed at the toolbox to show her what I was doing. That’s not Biblical servanthood.
I’ll tell you another crazy thing I did, a selfish thing I did. I could tell Lisa had gone through kind of a long day with our four kids and all that, so I said, “Lisa, you just chill. I am going to take care of the dinner. I’m going to wash the dishes and I’ll just be the man of the hour.” She said, “That’s so sweet. Honey, thank you for doing that.” So I began to work around the kitchen. Again, I couldn’t stand it. I began to sing a song [Ed sings], “Ed is a servant. Ed is a servant. Ed is a servant. Watch him serve.”
That was not a popular song around our house. Jesus didn’t sing that song. He doesn’t want us to sing that song. That’s not servanthood. True servanthood is putting other’s needs above your own. It’s doing something for others without worrying about who gets the credit except for God. We worry about glorifying him, but we’re not worrying about the pat on the back. We’re not worrying about our name in lights. We’re not worrying about all this fanfare; we’re just worrying about serving God. We’re worrying about developing that character quality that only the Lord himself can develop.
In Matthew 20:20, it says this, “Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons…”—we’re talking about James and John, the Galilean fishermen who left the fishing business to move into the people business when Christ called them— “…came to Jesus.” This lady was the first soccer mom. She probably drove a mini-van when [the verses continue], “…she came with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him (Jesus). She said, ‘Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.’” She was basically saying, “Jesus, I want my boys to play on your cosmic select team. I want them to have top positions. I want them to be prominent, to be powerful, to be well known.”
Now, before we jam this Jewish mother too much, we’re the same way. We are the exact same way. And you would think the disciples, the other ten, would go, “Oh, what is she thinking? Christ has been talking about servanthood, servanthood, servanthood. She’s missed it. That’s the soccer mom. She shouldn’t do that.” You would think they would have that mentality, but they didn’t. They were indignant. The Bible says they went on tilt. The disciples were like, “Man, we’re not giving up our positions like that! We need to be at the top. We need to be the greatest!” That’s what I love about Scripture. I can identify with these selfish, self-centered people, and so can you.
Look at Mark 9:33, “They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, ‘What were you arguing about on the road?’” In other words, Christ was walking ahead of the disciples. And as they were talking, he was reading their mail. Verse 34 says, “But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.”
“Ouch! Ed, is the Bible insinuating that we should not be ambitious or industrious? Is the Bible telling me I should not have a healthy self-esteem?” No! We should have a great self-esteem. As believers, we should see ourselves as fearfully, wonderfully made. We should see ourselves the way God sees us, nothing more and nothing less. We should be goal-oriented. We should be ambitious. We should be industrious. Don’t take Scripture out of context. Don’t say, “Well, I guess Jesus says we should be meek and mild and cowards and have this spineless-like servant mentality. I’ve got to help you, you, you.” I’m not talking about that. Christ is not talking about that. He was a man’s man.
A true servant is someone who is a leader. A true servant is someone who has enough strength to step out there and to serve Christ and to put other people’s needs above their own. A true servant is man enough or woman enough to admit that they’re not God. They’re man enough or woman enough to admit that they’re selfish, and they’ve turned from their selfishness and deferred to the power of the Holy Spirit who builds this great stuff in their lives.
Here’s what we’re going to find out today. The more you serve, the more joy you have. The more you serve, the more amazing your life is. And when you serve others, yes, you help them but—this will knock your socks off—it will help you, the server, more than the person you’re serving. Would that be called the servee? Is that right? The server more than the servee? I don’t know if that makes sense but, that’s what you generally find out.
You’re going to find out when you do something for someone as just an act of humility, as an act of service, yeah, you’re gonna help them. But you’ll discover, “Wow, I’m helping myself more than I’m helping them by serving. Why? Because I’m being like Jesus.”
Well, maybe right now God’s bringing up different acts of service that you can involve yourself in. Maybe in a marriage—husbands, have you thought about on Saturday mornings getting up early, letting your wife sleep in, and preparing breakfast and taking care of the kids for a while. Wives, have you thought about serving your husband by taking the initiative in the area of intimacy? Singles adults, have you ever thought about getting out of your clique and meeting some new people that you’ve seen hanging out here at Fellowship Church? That’s servanthood.
But again, in the natural we don’t want to do that. We want to do what makes us look good, what makes us feel good, what gives us pleasure. We don’t want to serve, yet we miss it. When we serve, we mature the fastest. When we serve, yes, we help others. We’re helping, though, ourselves. And once we get this and once we experience this and once we see this, we just won’t believe it.
Let’s keep going here. Here’s another interesting verse, because Jesus finally just kind of had a team meeting. He said, “Guys, you’re not getting it. I’m talking about servanthood here.” He was going after the basics. Look at Mark 10:43, 45. Jesus was just slamming this SPA mentality, this self-promoting attitude. “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,” Jesus says. Verse 45, “…For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.” He said, “I didn’t come to have this SPA mentality.” And that’s unnatural. [the verse continues] “…and to give His life as a ransom for many.”
Very directly, very simply Christ said, “Here’s why I’m here. I’m here to serve and to give, to serve and to give.” And naturally, we’re not into serving and giving. Naturally, we’re into our self, this me, my, mine mentality, this SPA mentality.
What does it mean when I say the word “ransom” from Scripture? Ransom means a price paid to release a slave. Jesus did the ultimate act of service on the cross when he was battered and bruised and abused, when he voluntarily was nailed to Calvary. It was the ultimate act of service, and he freed you and me up. We were slaves to sin. And the moment we bow the knee to Christ and ask Christ to come into our lives, we’re free. We’re free to serve and we’re free to be the kind of people that God wants us to be.
Maybe you’re asking, “Well, how does that happen, Ed?” Well, if you know your Bible and you know theology, the Bible says the moment Christ comes into our lives, he places the person of the Holy Spirit inside of our lives. And the Holy Spirit redecorates our heart, our soul, our mind, and our conscious. And the Holy Spirit is tenacious. He’s totally committed to take people like you and me who are self-centered and to turn us into others-centered people.
That is where the plot clots. That is how this thing happens. It can’t happen in the natural. You can’t say, “Well, I’m going to pull myself up by the boot straps. I want to try. I want to really try to be an others-centered person.” You can’t do it. Your motives will be all fouled up. Your motives will be all sideways. When we defer to the Holy Spirit of God, then we see this whole servant thing happening. I’m a Christian. So are many of you. And we still struggle with self-centeredness. But let me tell you how this process takes place. Let me tell you how God wants to turn you into a servant.
The second time I took Algebra II, I found myself in the classroom as a senior with my brother, Ben, a straight A student who was a sophomore at the time. Now, I love the arts. I would always draw in math class. Some of my best drawings occurred during Algebra II. We had a wonderful teacher named Mrs. Hopkins, and Mrs. Hopkins used one of those big, honkin’ overhead projectors. Do you remember those things? And she wrote with a grease pencil. And she was freaky because she would call on us, just off the cuff, and you had to walk up in front of the classroom and fill in the blank on that overhead with the grease pencil. One day I was drawing something and she said, “Ed, come up here and fill in the blank.” I was clueless. So as I walked by Ben’s desk I whispered, “Ben, what’s the answer?” He just shook his head. I said, “Ben, I’m going to kill you when I get home!”
I walked behind that overhead projector and talk about perspiration! You know that feeling like, “Oh man, this is terrible!” She gave me the grease pencil and I’m rolling it around my index finger and thumb and praying, “Lord, help me right now. Give me the right answer.” People began to laugh, “Ha, ha, ha, what an idiot! Ha, ha, ha, ha.” You know. And finally, sweet Mrs. Hopkins gave me the answer. She whispered it to me. She said, “It’s X to the 2nd power.” I just wrote it down—X to the 2nd power. Whew! I got the answer right! Yeah!
The Bible calls the Holy Spirit of God a counselor. Also, the Bible calls the Holy Spirit of God a teacher. When we invite Christ into our life, he places the person of the Holy Spirit inside of our life who teaches us, who points out potential equations in your life and mine. He writes a blank. He gives us a grease pencil and he says, “Fill in the equation with servanthood.” He turns on the overhead projector and says, “Ed, here’s a chance to serve your spouse. Here’s an opportunity to serve your children. Here’s a chance to serve Fellowship Church.”
And he does the same thing in your life. Many different times he alerts us to opportunities of service. Then he gets specific. He writes out the equation with a blank. Then he hands us the grease pencil. And here is the moment of truth. What do we do? We’re tempted to write self, to promote me and mine and have this me-istic mentality going on. Like Mrs. Hopkins, though, he whispers to us the answer, “Hey, it’s servanthood. Serve your spouse. Serve your children. Serve at the office. Serve the church. Serve. Get outside of yourself. Put other people’s interests up as more important than your own.”
And then, when we fill in the right answer, great things happen. But if we still hesitate, then the Holy Spirit pulls out the big guns. You know what he does? He reminds us of the ultimate act of service. All we have to do as true Christ followers is contemplate the cross of Christ, and it will move us and motivate us to serve. That’s all we’ve got to do. And that’s the Holy Spirit’s job.
You see, friends, our church is built on servanthood. Everything about Fellowship Church is built on others. I preach not for myself, but for others. We sing for others. We build buildings for others. We plan our church on people who haven’t shown up yet. We’re all about others. The people in the parking crew who braved the elements today, they were thinking about others. Our ushers are thinking about others. People in Children’s Church and Preschool and the Nursery Ministry, they’re thinking about others. The people backstage who are tweaking the dials, they’re thinking about others. Our security force is thinking about others. Everybody is thinking about others here. We’re an others-centered church. When people get that, the lights turn on and they see the beauty and the community of the local church. When they don’t, they miss it.
BENEFITS OF SERVING
Well, since we’re all so self-centered, I decided to list for you the benefits of serving. There are some benefits, some huge benefits and the Bible tells us that. God is so great, isn’t he? He just says, “You serve. You think about others. And here’s what will happen to you.”
Number 1, every time you and I serve, we will move the heart of God. God has feelings, too. That’s hard for some people to accept. He does. Every time you serve, every time I serve, every time we fill in the right answer, God says, “That’s my man,” or, “That’s my girl.” Because he sees his Son in our lives. It moves the heart of God.
Number 2, it makes an indelible impression among the people around us. Family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and people on your team. It just profoundly registers.
And then because of that, Number 3, it gives us a chance to share the good news of Jesus with others.
And Number 4, it brings unspeakable joy. You show me someone as a Christ follower who’s joyful and who’s positive and who’s excited and I guarantee you, you will see someone who is a servant. Isn’t this amazing? We serve others and yes, we help others by serving, but in the process we help ourselves more than others because we’re like Christ. There are benefits to serving.
Jesus did the ultimate act of service, didn’t he? By dying on the cross for our sins and rising again. It is something that we cannot do for ourselves. Never, ever, ever. We can’t do it. But Jesus did it. He was all about others when he identified with us. He’s all about others as he serves us. And he says, “You know what? Bow the knee to me and I’ll teach you and show you and coach you and instruct you on what this only life is all about.”
So, if God right now was to take a picture of your life and mine, what would he see? What would he see? God should see a snapshot of the Savior.