In Mark, the disciples are arguing about who is the greatest disciple. Jesus gathers them all together and declares, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” He then took a little child and put it among them, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”
How often I have fallen into the trappings of power and wealth. It is easy here in the midst of American capitalism to think the answer to happiness or life is to gather more money or power. Jesus speaks clearly and plainly, by taking a little child, who is an exemplar of powerlessness. He is saying, “Forget about having 100 employees, or having a huge 401k…your job is to lift up the least among you…. Your job is to be a servant, not a ruler.”
Jesus lets us know, in no uncertain terms, that power and influence will never buy happiness. It is antithetical to the trajectory of our faith. If you want to be powerful in the kingdom of heaven, you need a servant’s heart.
We are bombarded by a consumerist economy at every turn. Probably in accessing this Morning Reflection you have already seen an ad on your phone or digital device. As you drive to work or church I am guessing you will see more. The goal, it would seem if we believe the messages we are being dealt, is to gather as much stuff as possible. To find the greatest deal and “save” the most money. To have the newest and the latest. The underlying message – if you have this, that, or the other you will be successful, happy, powerful, richer, more complete.
Jesus seems to turn that on its head and say: The only way those things are going to be good is if they build community, humility, and help you develop a heart of service. If those things lead to selfishness they have no place in my kingdom. Don’t fall into that temptation. Build others up, and you will persevere….all of you.
This is a tough lesson to learn in the USA. It is a challenging time.