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Easter and Service

April 23, 2011

Just like every Easter, I am taking time out to focus in on the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.  But something I am adding into my thinking this year is the concept of service within Christ’s death and resurrection.

We are told that Christ came not to be served but to serve others instead (Matthew 20:28).  We are told that Christ put away the privileges of being God and allowed himself to be born fully man in a half forgotten city (Phil 2).  We are told he came not for the healthy people but for the sick (Mark 2:17).  And with the horror and beauty of the cross, he served himself up as the unblemished lamb that would take away the sins of those who connect themselves to such a sacrifice.

The Jewish people had been anticipating a messiah that would come with power.  The natural human assumption was that this power would look like political savvy and an iron fist that would save his people, flush out injustice and set up a new order.  As the coming Messiah, Christ did use his power to save his people, flush out injustice and set up a new order but it came by way of  a humble love for the unlovable and a sacrificial death for those who cursed and spit in his face.  God has a different definition than us for love and power and they went right over our heads.  Jesus redefined kingship for us and it was our poor view of power and success that helped hoist Christ up on the cross.  Gregory Boyd, author of The Myth of a Christian Religion stated,

…the power of the Kingdom of God to attract and transform people lies in its beautiful, humble uniqueness.   In a violent world filled with people vying for Caesar-like power over others, the Kingdom (of God) offers people the peacemaking beauty of Christ-like power under people.

Christ is God’s face turned towards man.  Emmanuel (God with us) came down and put on the flesh of vulnerability.  It was in that journey that we see the difference between Christ’s kingdom and that of the world.  We have been given a chance to see God act as a man- a man who understands the human experience and who can communicate the realm of God.  Again, Boyd points out,

Exercising power under others is about impacting people’s lives by serving them, sacrificing for them, and even being sacrificed  by them while refusing to retaliate, as Jesus did.  We can think of this kind of power as the power of the cross, for the cross is the purest expression of humble, servant-like , self-sacrificial love.

The God of this universe decided to live the life of a poor carpenter and spend time with sick and troubled people.  Christ made it very evident that he reigned in a different kingdom that was governed by a different set of laws.  The cross is a constant reminder for us to forgo our human comforts and to consider this new realm of service.  The power of God looks nothing like our world, it is something different, something foreign.  We must be willing to submit to God to properly understand such radical love.

Christ’s power is not abusive and his love isn’t self-serving.  His power sacrifices for the undeserving and his love initiates forgiveness.  This Easter, let us reflect on how Christ served us and how that act created a rippling that moves through us and goes outward to others.  There is no Easter without his service.

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