A servant goes about his business, tending to the master’s house and affairs. He is quiet, almost invisible, owning the background which has become his work place. He prides himself in keeping out of his master’s way, serving the master in the most efficient manner possible in order to allow him to effectively live his best life.
The servant works hard, cleaning the house, coordinating the other staff, answering doors and running errands for the master. He sees problems before they arise and ensures that they never eventuate. He is so deeply enmeshed in the master’s world that the servant knows what the master needs before he even realises it. When things do go wrong, the servant is always at the ready, serving and helping, coming up with solutions or ensuring that the master has enough time and space away from more menial issues to work them out for himself. And he always ensures that everything the master needs is conveniently at hand. Never does an order even need to be given or a request made, such is the symbiotic nature of the relationship and awareness that the servant possesses.
The Ultimate Servant
His own ego is non-existent, such is his selfless, serving nature. His life is lived for one reason, and one reason only: to be completely poured out in service for the master he loves. He requires no accolades or recognition, no praise or worship for a job well done. If the master has a bad day and makes things difficult for the servant, taking out his frustrations on the servant or the work he has so lovingly carried out, it changes nothing for the servant. If the master has a bad week, or even a bad year, the servant is so deeply involved in his life that he sees and knows the reasons why. The empathy that the servant has for the master is so profound that he will love the master until his dying breath, even in the midst of the most violent rejection of everything he has been called to in his role and relationship with the master.
Often, we Christians understand and accept that we are called to a servant-style relationship with our God. We are to selflessly give our lives in service to Christ, because of what he first did for us...
But how often have we considered that this is exactly how Jesus first demonstrated his love for us? Yes, Jesus came in service of “The Father”, but such is the dynamic of the Trinity that The Father also came to Earth, united with The Son in service of humanity. Out of the loving and selfless outpouring of relationship that they share with The Spirit, they created a new realm of being and existence with which they could also love, serve, cherish and develop.
The Divine Presence is infused within and throughout the whole universe, lovingly serving it, and everything in it, every day. God requires no accolades, no praise, no recognition of what it does for us. Love has no ego, and makes no demands to be worshipped. It keeps no record of wrongs, no lists of our failures to recognise its presence in our lives or call it by one particular name over another. It has a deeply rooted empathy for all of us. It knows our struggles, and the evil done to us and by us. It knows our reasons for rejecting certain depictions of its presence, including those found in the “least of these”. It knows that all of the language and models that we have used to communicate the reality of its existence fall hopelessly short of describing its fullness.
Here’s the thing that many Christians fail to see: Jesus Christ, and the Trinity that is fully on display in him, will never turn on the those he came to serve and turf them out for failing to recognise, acknowledge or believe in him. Jesus is devoid of any kind of selfish ego that demands such worship and praise, however helpful it might be for us in letting go of our own egos and embracing the same love and service for others. Any worship of God should lead us to see the truth of Jesus' teaching that true greatness is found in being the "servant of all".
Christ's words and actions to this end model God’s character, nature and power. True power is found in humility, in service. True transformation is found only in dying to self, to power, to control. This is who God is. Divine Love is willing to subject itself to the slavery of our, at times, monstrous human control and abuse. Yet there is still nothing in God that would ever relinquish the servant/slave position to take up an “all mighty Overlord” mantle, or smite those who have abused the divine love that we were all born with, and into. In God there is no ego to offend, only Love. Love that is patient and kind; keeping no record of wrongs and never insisting on its own way. It does not rejoice in wrongdoing, yet it endures all things and continues to hope and believe in that which it loves. And it never ends.
If Christ, as a manifestation and representative of the Trinity, relates to humanity every day as a servant (and I believe he does) he is washing our feet as a reminder of our wholeness – our unending and unbreakable union with divine love (which is often translated as salvation in our Bibles). And, just like a servant, Jesus never demands that we notice or acknowledge this humble fact. The servant just goes about their business, whether they are noticed or not, bringing hope and grace to all the world, subtly and patiently influencing the world towards righteousness and love. But, if we are blessed enough to notice it, we will have the pleasure and the privilege of following Christ’s example of relinquishing our power and dying to ourselves in the service of a hurting world.
Russell Croft has a heart for community and reaching out to the marginalised and forgotten. He is getting to know the God of infinite goodness and is living a joy-filled life with his wife Belinda and three children in South-East Queensland, Australia.
See all previous articles by Russell Croft