In Matthew 20, we find an ironic juxtaposition of Jesus' call and our ever-present desire for our own greatness.
And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.” (20:17-19)
In the very next verse, look at what happens.
Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” (20:20-22)
It's ironic to say the least. "I am going to be killed and will rise from the dead to deliver you from your sin." "Wonderful. Could you please give us power and prominence in your kingdom?"
As much as I hate to say it, this same self-important, kingdom-ignorant attitude is far too often lurking in my own heart. And lately, as I watch the Christian world tear itself apart on social media and our "Christian celebrities" appearing with cringe-worthy headlines next to their names, I wonder what our Lord Jesus would say to the modern American church.
In His kingdom, the first will be last. In His kingdom, we become great by being servants. In His kingdom, we are called to die to our ambition and self-importance and self-preservation and longing for notoriety and lose ourselves in Him and for Him.
When did we begin to settle for social media influence over personal discipleship and sacrificial love displayed in our local churches?
When did we swallow the lie that building our brand is the same thing as building His kingdom?
When did we decide that expanding our voice and platform is what it means to die to self and lay down our lives for Him?
Oh, Father, forgive us. For yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever and ever. Amen.