01 September 2012

The Courage to Serve

Barbarian!  The word alone creates pictures in your mind of rough, strong, and powerful men with wild eyes, a ferocious look! Their arms are taut and ripped, muscles bulging, hair long and unkempt, clothing made from a slain animals' skin, a shield in one hand, and a sword in the other. 

This is the kind of man you want going into battle for you -not against you. If a job that is too threatening and perilous for an ordinary man pops up, then a barbarian is who you want to enlist for the task. If your enemy is taunting you, then a barbarian is who you want to call to your side.

A barbarian is known by his courage, his fearlessness, his ferocity in battle...his innate ability to wreak havoc on all those he encounters. Call him into battle and he willingly and eagerly agrees. Call him to a treacherous journey? Of course! To intimidate? YES!

To be a servant to others? What? Where did that come from? A barbarian is a servant to no man! How dare you even suggest such stupidity!

But here is where our barbaric journey takes us next:  servanthood. This idea seems foreign to the whole concept of being a barbarian doesn’t it? The word servanthood implies slavery doesn’t it? Barbarians are slaves to no one!

When we picture a servant we imagine a pathetic creature without any important purpose in life—bent over, crushed in spirit, lacking self-esteem, soiled, wrinkled, worn out, and weary; Just like a human mule, who just trudges along with a sigh and a tear.

Right about now, we may feel challenged to be barbarians, and now I am asking you to have the courage to be a servant? Yes, it takes guts and strength to be a servant more than you can possibly imagine.

Where does this idea come from anyway? I mean, what nut job came up with this completely stupid idea that being a barbarian requires being a servant?

God. 

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve” Mark 10:45

This is what servant hood looked like in the days of Jesus:

Slavery was very common to the ancient people of Israel. There were several ways a person could become a slave, one of them being a way to pay off a debt. A man would find himself unable to pay what he owed and thus would promise to serve as a slave to the one he owed money to. By Jewish law, the man was bound to a 7 year term of service! At the end of the 7 years, the owner had to set his slave free and cancel the amount of money owed.

Here is where things get interesting.  After the 7 years, the slave could choose to remain with the master. They could actually refuse their freedom.

Slaves in Israel were usually treated very well. Do not compare this slavery with America’s dark and dirty history of slavery. The slaves of a Hebrew family were often treated as members of the family. After 7 years in a loving and healthy family, where food and clothing were provided, as well as a place to stay, a slave may not want to return to his free life of poverty. After all,  he may end up the slave to another master who would be cruel.

If a slave gave up his right to freedom, he would have his ear pierced by an awl on the doorpost of the master, therefore having a permanent mark upon his body that he willingly chose to remain in service to the good master. From that day on anyone who saw this servant would know that he loved his master so much that he chose to remain in his home!

As barbarians, do we love our Master that much? He has given us the freedom to do as we please, but do we choose to stay in service to Him alone?

You tell me what takes more guts, standing sword raised high and shield tucked against a raging army or washing the dirty feet of a traveler in your home? To go on a mission trip to darkest Africa to face disease and possible death or silently, every day bathing your bed-ridden spouse day after day, night after night without anyone ever knowing what you do?

Jesus said in Matthew 20, “whoever wishes to become great among you will be a servant”

Your choice as a believer is not whether you will serve or not, as a believer you are a servant whether you choose to serve faithfully or not. Your servant hood is not based upon what you do; it’s defined by who you are. This means that you are God’s servants all the time the question is whether you are faithful or disobedient, selfish and lazy.

If I were to pull you aside and ask you to serve a king, most would readily agree. Yet if we are asked to serve one another, we balk- we hesitate. Why? Because we feel important when we serve a king or someone of importance, but humble when we serve a nobody. The irony in all this is when we serve the nobody we ARE serving the KING!

Yes, I am calling you to a barbarian lifestyle.  One of passion, zeal, and danger.  But the pathway of our journey goes directly through servant hood. Without the courage to be a servant, we will never be the warrior God has called us to be.

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