It is the question asked incessantly by adults from the day a child picks up the fire truck and zooms it around the room until the day she graduates from college, "So what do you want to be when you grow up?" When I was little I wanted to be a real estate appraiser just like my daddy. Throughout high school and my first semester of college I wanted to be a nurse, until I figured out the outrageous amount of bodily fluids involved. And when I received my first salaried paycheck and printed business cards I gleefully accepted the title "Product Manager" for a Christian publishing company. In my life the answer to that question took some pretty violent turns but something that never made the list was "servant." Never once did I answer, "I want to be nothing so that others might benefit."
Recently we've been studying what it means to abide in Christ with our church fellowship. You know, "Apart from Me you can do NOTHING." This morning we looked at sacrifice. One part of the sermon that particularly hit me was out of Matthew 20. James and John had a momma who wanted them to succeed. She brought her sons before Jesus and requested that her sons get a place of honor in his kingdom. While this infuriated the other disciples, a sign that they didn't get it either, it didn't seem to bother the Lord that much. He admitted it was not his position to grant but told them, and us, who was going to be first in his kingdom: the servant. Jesus wanted them to succeed, too, just at something completely different.
It's easy to say, "Yah, yah, yah, I know, the servant," but if we really peel back the curtain on our motives we see that we spend a whole lot of our time trying to yank our lives away from Jesus lest we experience something uncomfortable. Sure, we give, but we don't live lives of radical sacrifice because we don't want to die. "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it," (Luke 9:23-24). Personally, I'm afraid to die, not physically (although that doesn't seem very pleasant, either) but lifestyle-ly. I want cushion and safety. I want respect and admiration. I want position not slavery.
The crazy thing about this upside down kingdom Jesus is running is that all of those things I desire--cushion, safety, respect, admiration, position--are available in Christ. Not only that, but they have nothing to do with my ability to perform. Take a look at Ephesians 1 for a list of what Christ provides for us. Throwing aside my crazy attempts at self-fulfillment and embracing Jesus enables me to live a wild life abandoned to the gospel. I am free to love as Christ loved because my stability is found in what He's already guaranteed. I can give away everything because He's secured my future. I truly have nothing to lose but that which doesn't count anyway. This kind of Christ-dependant living would change my neighborhood, my community, and my world.