ON SERVANT LEADERSHIP
August 10, 2011
Today’s reading: John 12:24-26
One of our Core Values is servant leadership. We are all servants of God. He formed us as His servant from the womb (Is 49:5a), and we are servants through whom He shows His glory (Is 49:3).
As servants of God, then we must follow Jesus. “Whoever serves me must follow me” (Jn 12:26a). That means we should go where Jesus goes, we should follow his lead, we should obey the Father as he did, we should become like him in holiness, we should exhibit the same zeal he has for the Kingdom. We serve Jesus as his disciples, and in doing so, we are to deny ourselves and carry our cross, just as he did.
One of the most significant ways by which Jesus served the Father and us was to die for our sins on the cross. The ultimate call to the Christian is to martyrdom, because when you have given your very life, there is nothing more to give.
Life is a most precious gift to us by God. And Jesus came so that we might have life and have it in abundance. We are to enjoy life to the full as God intends. But here is the paradox: “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.” (Jn 12:25). What does it mean?
If we love life with all its worldly pleasures and we indulge ourselves, then we lose the true meaning of life, which is given to us by God so we can serve and give generously of ourselves, not counting the cost. If we focus on our life and what we can get out of it, we inevitably lose the opportunity to do what God intended for us to do with our life. If we love our life, we may lose out on eternal life. On the other hand, if we do not look to our own satisfaction and pleasures in life, then we are able to live for God, to work at building His kingdom on earth, and eventually entering into eternal life in heaven, which is what God intends all along.
How does this translate to practical terms for a servant? To hate our life in this world means:
* We enjoy the good things God offers us in life, but we do not over-indulge.
* We shun materialism and consumerism, acquiring only what we truly need.
* We expend ourselves in serving God, giving generously of our time, talent and treasure, to the point of “depriving” ourselves.
* We do not look to earthly rewards for our work, in fact preferring to work in anonymity and without recognition.
* We willingly suffer for the cause of Christ, and in fact rejoice for the privilege.
* We do not retaliate against those who attack us personally, being unmindful of our reputation or honor in the eyes of the world.
* We are willing to die for our faith.
Now we in CFC-FFL are called to be an evangelistic and missionary community. We are to work such that God’s “salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” (Is 49:6e). As servants, we try to give whatever we can, ever mindful of how small and weak we truly are, given the awesome divine work of God. We are merely small grains of wheat. But it is when we die to ourselves, when we hate our life in this world, that God can use us to produce much fruit. “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.” (Jn 12:24). And of course, if all of us live this way, then the many grains of wheat that we are will produce a vast harvest field that brings forth much fruit.
Jesus had to die in order that the fullness of his mission would be achieved, in order that he might win salvation for humankind. In the same way, if we are to be God’s instruments in bringing salvation to the world, then we too need to die. What does that mean?
* We crucify our old self with its sinful desires. “We know that our old self was crucified with him, so that our sinful body might be done away with, that we might no longer be in slavery to sin.” (Rom 6:6).
* We allow Christ to live in us. “I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:19b-20a).
* We turn our whole life over to God, knowing Jesus purchased us on the cross and now we belong to him. “Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires.” (Gal 5:24).
* We look to death in Christ as gain rather than loss. “For to me life is Christ, and death is gain.” (Phil 1:21).
* We look to our life as important simply as a gift by which we serve God, especially in our work of evangelization. “Yet I consider life of no importance to me, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to bear witness to the gospel of God’s grace.” (Acts 20:24).
If we hate our life in this world and if we die as the grain of wheat falling to the ground, then we will produce much fruit. Then we will experience the fullness of the strength of God in our work. Then we will be “made glorious in the sight of the Lord” (Is 49:5c). Then we will truly live out our calling and charism of massive and worldwide evangelization.
And if we follow Jesus and serve him, we will ultimately be there in heaven where he is, and the Father will welcome and honor us. “Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me.” (Jn 12:26).
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