Who Do We Serve?
“But whoever is great among you must be your servant; and whoever would be first among you must be your slave; even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:26-28.
Loving the writing style of a short story, one of my favorite author and playwrights was Rod Serling. Serling is best known for his sci-fi TV work: The Twilight Zone. Through his writings, he often critiqued and evaluated post-war American society through the use of irony, veiled morality and anecdotes. One of the most frightening Twilight Zone episodes was entitled, “To Serve Man.” Keep in mind this was the era of early TV, what was lacking in special effects was made up for with solid writing, thought provoking plots, and personal imagination on the part of the viewer.
Incredibly tall and technologically advanced aliens arrive on plant earth. Sharing their knowledge, resources and skill, they implement a period of peace, prosperity and growth, such as the planet had never seen. Their intentions, they assure one and all are purely benevolent. While they briefly depart, they leave behind a small book written in a cryptic language that for some time remains undecipherable, with the exception of its title: “To Serve Man.” Upon returning, they allow “visits” of humans to their planet and it is assumed all is well. As with most Twilight Zone conclusions, there is always a chilling and ironic twist, one that was designed to instill humility and perspective instead of trusting our own resources, riches and abilities. The book left behind was a cookbook: “To Serve Man”, to the horror of all!
Most of Jesus’ teachings have to do with who and what we serve. In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus has just completed a series of teachings, or parables, about service for the kingdom. What do you think of when someone mentions “service?” Is it hiring someone to perform a task or necessary function? Usually there is also compensation involved that is either agreed upon or negotiated. As we know, the greater the service performed, the greater the cost incurred. In these parables, Jesus redefines “service.” He begins in chapter 20 with a parable about being hired for work in the vineyard at different hours of the day. At the end of the day, when it is pay time, all who worked are paid the same, no matter when they started, much to the anger and bewilderment of some. The key emphasis of this parable was not a lesson in economic fairness, but instead a recognition of who we are all serving: The King. All the work in the vineyard was done for the Master’s benefit, not their own. The point is not the compensation for the work, but the joy to be invited to serve the master.
As we travel down the road with Christ to the cross at Easter, it is appropriate that we focus on our work and what we serve. In reading a monthly devotional, there was an article about how we subtly begin to serve things other than God in our normal, everyday lives. Do we remember who we serve, or are we too busy and distracted? That is the constant challenge of life, which serves as a challenge and an opportunity as we approach Easter, the season of rebirth. This season is always for new growth in our lives. Will you take time to serve the One who came to die on our behalf?
Yours in Christ,