“Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” Mark 9:35
Whenever a meal was served at Friedens Lutheran Church, the women preparing the meal wanted me to eat first. I always refused by telling them, “The first will be last, so I’m moving to the back of the line just to make sure I’m in.” After some time of saying this, I started thinking to myself, if I intentionally move to the end am I actually wanting to be first? Maybe it would be better to go first, because then I was actually willing to be last. Or, should I just eat in the middle and remove all doubt? O Lord, please tell me where I should stand in the church supper line.
As a pastor, I’ve always considered myself the host of any event taking place inside the church. It’s not proper for the host to eat first. That honor is reserved for the guests. This is true of both a congregational meal and the Lord’s Supper. However, I’ve come to realize there’s more to my aversion of eating first than I care to admit. Deep within my soul is a fear I am not living faithfully.
My fear is rooted in scripture. Jesus is not kind to the pastoral class. The religious leaders – Scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees – are often the villains of the story. They are the hypocrites. The grace of God is something reserved for the ordinary, often non-religious, citizens.
Despite this truth, many people fear they are not living faithfully. It finds all kinds of different expressions. It leads some to be more critical of other people’s behavior. In others, it causes them to avoid anything religious. Some simply live in a quiet uncertainty they keep to themselves. It’s not really about living faithfully, it’s more about a desire to know we are loved.
This one line gives me great assurance of being loved. In Jesus there is no first or last. Religious leaders move to the end of the line so they maybe fed with love. The least are brought to the front so they also may be fed with love. It’s a lesson we struggle to grasp in our best and worst, good and bad world. All are fed with love regardless of their place in the line.
Click to read: Mark 9: 30-37
- How would you define living faithfully?
- What do you consider non-faithful behavior?
- Where do you find a need to be assured of God’s love?
- Who is someone you know who needs this assurance?
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