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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Missing Greatness

My wife and I stood in line at the Delta counter in Tel Aviv. We had just taken a group of people to the Holy Land and we were making the journey home. The process was familiar to us. We didn't expect anything other than getting our boarding passes, waiting and boarding. The Delta agent told us that we had been bumped up to first class. It was extremely exciting because it was also our anniversary.

We boarded first and found our seats on the second floor of the Boeing 747. There were about twenty seats in the whole cabin. The two flight attendants began serving us immediately. We had our own storage areas, seat controls which truly laid flat, menu in which we ordered dinner and bunches of other things I fail to remember.

We took off in the greatest comfort I have ever felt on a plane. The flight attendants served our every want. They even made my wife a special dessert because she didn't want the choices on the menu. I had ordered a steak which was as good as I have had. My family has raised their own cattle for some time. I know what a great steak is. This was one of them.

It may have been an hour or so into the flight when the captain came over public address system:

"Good evening, folks, this is Captain (I've forgotten his name.) and I have some good news. It seems that the wind patterns are favorable and we should be arriving in New York about an hour early."

My wife said aloud, "Nooooooooo!"

It felt great to be treated this way but it was not greatness. The people serving us were greater than we were.

People often tell me that they believe they were created for something great. Most of them can't tell me what that is. They have not found the greatness they were created for. Again, I blame the language that the world has taught us. The world says that greatness comes when you are famous, powerful, rich and beautiful. That is why books by the famous, powerful, rich and beautiful sell. People want to be like them because they have been deluded into thinking that this is greatness. Chasing these delusions keeps us from greatness.

Greatness is being the servant of all. It is not writing books, entertaining, being photogenic or being all powerful.

Even Jesus own disciples didn't understand this. His teaching wasn't getting through to them. I understand His frustration. I sometimes think that my own preaching isn't getting through to anyone. I may not have done it as well as Jesus but I have been doing it longer than He did. But greatness is not found in preaching either.

This lesson was so important that He got a towel and washed their feet. They wouldn't understand it right away. It came to them later. How could they be greater than their Lord? If He would wash their feet to demonstrate His greatness, shouldn't they also wash the feet of others?

Greatness does not come because people call you great. It does not come because you are served or recognized or have made what the world would consider an impact. It comes because we make ourselves as the servants of all others.

And that's the reason that most people miss genuine greatness. They want to be recognized by mankind as being great. The truly great person is known as great by God. And maybe God alone.

John 13:3-17 (ESV) 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, 4 rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” 8 Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” 9 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
12 When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

1 comment:

Deb Willbefree said...

Reminds me of Galatians 5:13.

We are not called to be great, we are called to be free--then TOLD to be great. Well, we're told to be "great" if we use Jesus' definition. :)

Gal. 5:13. You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. NIV