Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Reflections on Mark 10:42-45

Mark 10:42-45 NIV
You know that those regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.

Today, in Iran we can see leaders who lord it over their people. Some factions of the country’s leadership and Iranian terrorists face charges of plotting to kill today the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States, here on American soil.

In other dark places of the world, local police turn their heads to drug trade, human trafficking and child exploitation. Governments belittle women. Evil policy and corrupt officials affect us stateside, at times, too.

Still, I’ve talked with a couple I know who fled to America as political refugees from a war-torn African country I will not cite specifically. They note our issues and legitimate concerns, but emphatically state that we remain in a far better position in this country. We look different here.

In this passage in Mark, we see a sharp contrast between what the worldly leaders and influencers default to in their leadership, and how God calls the followers of Jesus Christ to lead. We’re called to be different. “Not so with you,” the passage instructs.

I meditated on these verses during a long walk, carrying the verses written out on a note card, and that time brought the blessing of fresh insights and reminders — and some questions. I had wondered how effective my method would be, but God was present. And when I returned, and set out to write down our conversation, He helped me remember all He and I had talked about.

My Notes

V. 42 The verse opens, with “You know.” We as believers know the views of leadership are different for non-Christians, and the early church saw that in their political culture when the gospel of Mark was written. Our motivation and approach are supposed to be changed.

“Rulers over Gentiles lord it over them…” Those rulers then enjoyed having control and power, like radical Islamic leaders of today. (Iran) Gentile means non-Jew, generally speaking, but often the worship of other pagan gods came with that. We don’t worship the same God as the god of Islam.

As a follower of Christ, I should be strong in my knowledge that to deny Christ, is to deny God, because God is Christ, and Christ is God. The same thing goes for cults that deny the Holy Spirit is God. Those resulting religions and, in turn, the way they lead their people is different.

In verse 42, I wondered, what is the difference between a ruler and a high official? I would say an official may be more like a judge or a bureaucrat. Rulers, more like presidents, kings, prime ministers, even governors.

The phrase “exercise authority” stood out. These rulers and high officials lay down judgments against people, determine taxes and debts to be paid, things affecting a person’s reputation, maybe. Possibly the authority is abused and stretched – in Jesus’ time on Earth as human, and today in the U.S., and in courts in the Middle East, Asia, etc.

Verse 43
“Not so with you.” What a call to be different. This joy of being above someone for the sake of being above people is not the vision Jesus has for His church or for me.

“Instead,” God says. He’s calling me (and all people and leaders in the church) to replace thoughts of being the boss, and to choose a godly way of being someone’s leader, parent, manager, etc. The best alternative is the “instead” way of leading.

The verse continues, “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant…”

“Whoever” – No exceptions. Wants – If they or I want or desire leadership, what we might call big responsibilities, honor, or success, they, and I, need to be willing to follow the ideas in the vision this passage casts.

“Become” – We may not be great now, but could be. Growth may be a long process, or maybe something clicks quickly. And the great is as defined by God.

“Among you” – Out of your group – the 10 or those who would go to the disciples for leadership while Jesus was on earth, and after His ascension. It applies in our time, as well.

“Must” – Requirement

“Be your servant” – A potential leader is willing to help those over him or her as earning trust or responsibility, showing heart. Also, we can’t narrow down what the servanthood tasks are, because they involve reaching out to the body of Christ with help in many different forms.

Verse 44
“First” – Meaning maybe head of a local church or ministry. First = JESUS

 “Slave of all” -  Leaders are accountable to the whole local body or ministry, raising the local church or ministry up to bring glory to God. Jesus was a slave of all when He died for all of us. (We just need to accept it.)

Verse 45
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”

This verse helped me keep my ego and attitude and perspective in check as a mom to young children. I often felt overwhelmed by so much maintenance, coated with sweet child-related blessings, too, of course. But remembering what Jesus gave up stepping down to Earth, and dying for me served as a gratitude reminder.

“Son of Man” – Jesus referencing Himself. Wondering if this implores us to remember His role as our Creator, too.

“Serve” – To teach, heal, love, save

“Give” – We didn’t and don’t  buy His act(s) of love in any way

“Ransom” – Hostage trade – one for all of humanity. We’ve been kidnapped by sin, Satan, temptations, and our own foolishness, at times. We just have to accept the trade, the gift Christ gave.

God spoke all that to me in an hour-long walk. He calls me to live it out as I lead as a mother, and in the church, wherever He may choose to put me, and as I live for Christ in my workplace and neighborhood. What a challenge of my heart, my mind and my actions — my being.