Celebrities and Servants
You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-45, ESV)
The Tour golf season is under way. The PGA Tour’s second event begins today, and the LPGA’s first event is around the corner. While COVID continues to limit golf fans from following their favorite celebrity golfers in person, there are plenty of ways to tune in by television, radio, or the internet.
Whether it be an athlete, Hollywood personality, musician, or politician, we all have our favorite celebrities. What makes a celebrity a celebrity? Dictionary.com defines one as “a famous person” or “the state of being well known.” If we stay within the world of golf, a few that flow off the tongue are Tiger, Annika, and Rory because of their skill and passion. If you followed the recent US Women’s Open, you might want to include Amy Olson for her courageous play under heartbreaking circumstances.
Unfortunately, we have many examples of celebrities who miss use their notoriety in a way that causes harm to others and themselves. This happens when an individual takes on the attitude of entitlement that demands others to serve him or her, demanding authority over others that is demeaning and abusive.
John the Baptist was a celebrity: “Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him (Matthew 3:5).” And we know Jesus was a famous person and well known: “A great crowd followed, from Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem and Idumea and from beyond the Jordan and from around Tyre and Sidon (Mark 3:7-8).” What did they do differently?
John the Baptist and Jesus interacted with people in a way that served and lifted others up instead of holding power over (like the Romans and Pharisees). What does it mean to serve? In a general sense it means to do anyone a service or to care for someone’s needs. In our passage today, Mark uses the language of being a slave as a way of being a servant. This doesn’t mean we are to be “owned,” but rather we are to be men and women who are willing to give up our will to be used by Christ in extending and advancing his love and care here on earth. To be this kind of servant is to lift up others’ needs above our own interests. Not our first instinct and not always easy to follow.
As we continue to face lingering and new challenges, let us all be reminded to grow in maturity as Christ’s servants. The world needs us, not because we are a celebrity, but because we offer humility and hope.
January 14, 2021
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