Ahh . . . Christmas. That time of year when “peace on earth, goodwill toward men” prevails. From the streets to the malls . . . from the department stores to the supercenters . . . from the check-out lines to the parking lots . . . from office parties to family gatherings — wherever you turn, mankind is at its finest.
Okay, you may be thinking, “Where is this guy from?”. While there are bright spots that can be found among people in the midst of the Christmas hustle and bustle — more often than not, the public response of people to one another is far less than ideal.
While the result is far from ideal, it really shouldn’t be a surprise. Much of the confrontation and tension of the season has its root in an age-old pursuit — the pursuit of greatness. We don’t want to wait in line, we want to be first. Wherever we are, it becomes all about seeking our place — a place that we are not willing to step back from to benefit another. We need to move forward, not backward. We get caught up in the clamor to determine “pecking order” in all of our Christmas gatherings. We go to work parties, church functions, and family gatherings and try to figure out where we belong and how to “move up the ladder” to greatness.
As I mentioned earlier, this is an age-old problem. A problem that we find existing throughout scripture and addressed by Jesus. One of those times is recorded in Matthew 20 when the mother of James and John want special status for her sons. Jesus responds by telling her it is not His place to grant her specific request. The real response comes from Jesus as the other 10 disciples get word of this “special request”. The Bible says the other disciples are “indignant”. Their response does raise the question, “Why?”. The response of Jesus indicates to me that they were probably “indignant” because they each wanted to be in a “top” position. Matthew writes about it with these words in Matthew 20:24-28:
“When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave — just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.'”
You see, there is a ladder to greatness. The only problem is that the vast majority of us get it wrong. We are taught and believe that we obtain greatness by climbing to the top of the ladder. Jesus teaches quite the opposite — we obtain greatness by climbing to the bottom of the ladder. It is a ladder we climb down to serve others. Not just any others, all others!
How Christmas would change if all Christians remembered this as they drove about this time of year. If they thought of others and served them as they do business in the stores and as they attend various work, church, and family gatherings. If each of us would climb down the ladder of success to reach greatness as defined by Jesus.
I pray that you and I would commit to climbing the ladder to greatness. May we learn to truly serve this Christmas season. May others know of Jesus and His great love because we are becoming great in the kingdom of God — great because we are learning to wholeheartedly serve God and the “least of these His brethren”.