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Who’s in charge?

July 27, 2013

“And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, ‘What were you discussing on the way?’ But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, ‘If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.’ And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, ‘Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.’” Mark 9:33-37 CEV
There is a something within us that demands we strive for greatness; there is nothing really all that wrong with it until in that striving to succeed we also seek to be greater than others. There is a fine line between wanting to be successful and demanding superiority, but it is a line that is all too frequently crossed as evidenced by the competitive nature of so many in the world today.
Alpha males and females abound in the animal kingdom; leadership through intimidation or physical violence is the norm, but should this carry over into the business world of humanity? It certainly seems to exist in the political realm as differing views are attempted to be forced on others with no thought of compromise (red and blue states, politicians, etc.). Such demanding to be the ‘top dog,’ to be in charge and set the agenda leads only to increasingly strident voices raised in a cacophony of violence and hatred that does no one any good. Recent struggles around the world as one faction seeks predominance over the other illustrate this far better than anything I could say ever will. From Egypt, to Afghanistan even to the halls of Congress in America we see man’s unwillingness to cooperate or to seek a common ground.
As shown in the excerpt from the Gospel as recorded by Mark, those men chosen by Jesus to be His apostles, the foundation of His church, were as any other human in wanting to be the ‘alpha-dog’ of the group. Jesus’ lesson to them and to us is that such is not the way to greatness that He would have us pursue. Mahatma Gandhi was asked once what he thought of those bearing the name of Christ in his country, his answer is an indictment of Christianity and bears upon the lesson Jesus sought to teach His apostles so long ago;
“I like your Christ; I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
Christians should bear the manner of the Christ as well as His name; when we behave as the world we deny the One we say we worship and perhaps put stumbling blocks in the way to Him for others (as apparently happened with Mr. Gandhi). What is an even greater rebuke to the church is that leaders such as Gandhi emulated Messiah far better than those of his age and today who say they are Christians. Whatever business or career we are involved in, we should examine ourselves (as Paul admonished us in 1 Corinthians 11:28) honestly, comparing ourselves not to those we meet day by day, but to the One we serve. He is the standard we strive for and we can only reach that standard through being a servant. It does seem contradictory, but as I’ve heard it put before, “the way up is down” (Nancy Leigh DeMoss in Brokenness, The Heart of God Revives).
Let others be the alpha dog; serve the One who is in meekness and humility and watch the world around you change.

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