Devotion for March 27-29, 2018

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant.” Philippians 2:5-7

It can be tough to work in the service industry, especially when you work for businesses like restaurants, retail, or tourism. Customers know that they are always right, so they act like it. I used to work giving tours and selling concessions on a boat, and people would leave behind the most terrible messes. They’d leave behind half-eaten sandwiches, just sitting on the tables with chip crumbs scattered around their seats. And I’d have to clean it all up before the next round of tourists made a mess on my boat.

No one likes to be a servant. Everyone wants to be served. Everyone, that is, except for Jesus. Jesus, the king of kings and lord of lords, emptied himself by taking the form of a servant. He humbled himself to the point of death on the cross.
Perhaps the most beautiful example of his humility happened on Maundy Thursday, when Jesus washed the disciples’ feet. I teach this story to the children in my church’s preschool every year. They delight to hear how disgusting the disciple’s feet must have been. How the disciples walked in sandals on dusty, dirty roads with the animals (and you know what animals leave behind). Jesus didn’t mind literally getting his hands dirty to show his disciples his love.

He shows that same love to us, not by washing our feet, but by dying on the cross for us. He hid his glory, the glory of the eternal Son of God, in the form of a human being. He suffered every indignity, every bodily function, every sickness that we face, but he did it without sin. And then he died for us to give us life. He didn’t need to do any of it. He could have sat up on his heavenly throne, but he chose to deny himself.

His service gives us eternal life. His service gathers us as God’s people. His service calls us to serve. And he gives us the ability to do it. In baptism, we are united with Christ. He gives us his servants heart. That’s what Paul tells us when he says, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.” Jesus gives us his own attitude, so we can serve like he did.

But we can’t be as good at it as Jesus, because we don’t like being a servant. We want to be served instead. That’s why we need worship. Each week, we go to church and confess how poorly we have served the people around us. We say, “I have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what I have done and by what I have left undone. I have not lived you with my whole heart. I have not loved my neighbor as myself.”

And God forgives. Through his forgiveness, Jesus Christ delivers his servant’s heart to us again. And we face a new week, determined to be a servant, determined to love others the way that Christ loved us. At the end of the week, we look back and say all over again, “I have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed.” Our whole life is a cycle of sin and forgiveness, and Christ comes renew our spirit and help us to serve.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, Give to us a servants heart that we may love others the way that Jesus loved us. Cause us to serve our neighbor with Christ’s heart and mind that they may see your love in our actions. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen