Monday, July 21, 2008

First Class Service

“Now see how those in authority over the people use it to their own advantage. With you, us, it cannot be this way. It’s actually just the reverse. If you want to be regarded within yourselves you have to take the low road and serve. And if you want to win the prize, start by putting yourself at the disposal of others. Not even God came with intentions of lording it over others. As a matter of fact he came to wash feet, to serve, and to give his life up so that others might actually find it.”
- Mark 10:42-45 (RSV)

If you have seen a recurring theme in any of these it’s that a lot of my recent thoughts have come out of time I have spent in and around my work. A couple of weeks back we played a team in our league from Bermuda. It’s not particularly relevant to this thought at all actually. I just thought you should know I was in Bermuda. It was awesome.

With that said on the way back we also played a team in Massachusetts. We tied the game and it was of no real consequence until the following morning. We had a flight out of Boston Logan Airport at I believe 9:30 AM. We left our hotel at quarter to six to cover the hour and a half drive to Boston as well as time to check in and get to the gate. As we hit the inbound highways to the city we came to a complete and total stop. Nothing. For almost half an hour we went nowhere. As we finally inched closer and closer to the city it became quite apparent we might just miss our flight.

With 4 different rental cars it became the proverbial every man (van) for himself. It was a complete and total rat race for that flight back to Cleveland. As cars weaved and dodged their way in and out of traffic we all arrived pretty closely to each other at the curbside drop off. It seemed as though we would make it just in time to get on the plane.
The only problem is that the rental cars still needed to be returned. And the rental car return was quite a ways away from the terminal. There was going to have to be four people who took the chance at missing the flight.

Amazingly enough, the four drivers who had already suffered putting up with the traffic mess chose without even being asked to take the cars back. To attempt at making this a little shorter, two of the four made it back with no problem. We boarded the plane with the exception of myself and another member from our front office. We stood at the gate and pleaded with the airline representatives to wait for our two friends.

At the last second we were able to speed one of our guys through security and make it to the gate just in time. As he arrived the airline rep let us know that there was an extra first class seat available. Because of the obvious situation and stress already delivered to our newly reunited friend it was easily decided that he would get the first class seat. We boarded and as I watched him take his ridiculously more spacious comfortable leather chair I thought that he more than deserved it for his self-sacrifice and service to the rest of the team.

Oh, did I forget to mention – the other guy never got to the gate. We took off without him. He had to find a new flight, and subsequently a different ride home from the airport in Cleveland.

This drove me nuts for the whole flight and car ride back home. I just couldn’t figure out why there was this negative connotation with service. What happened to one friend made more sense: If you serve, there’s a reward. It’s just that simple.

And yet Christ, one who had no business taking a car back, let alone death on a cross knew that service itself was reward enough. That to serve others is completely and exactly in line with whom we have been created to be as image bearers of the Most High.

What has been most convicting is that so often I find myself offering first class service. Not so much tangible in the actual service I am giving but more so in what my expectations are for return.

Am I only serving for a First Class Ticket?

In a world where the best of the best Christian leaders were looking out simply and strictly for number one, even with their service, gifts, and actions, Christ’s example of love and self-sacrifice is what shocked and awed the people as much as anything. We seemingly live in a world today that is begging for the exact same thing. In the past people have wanted strict apologetics for the gospel. Did the flood actually happen? Where? How can I defend the Scriptures with other primary and contextual sources?

Now don’t misunderstand me, those are all important pieces of knowledge. But I think we are living in a world, especially in America that is begging for an apologetic of love from followers of Christ. I thought it was always that they would know we are Christians by our love; not our T shirts (I saw one of these…thought it was brilliantly subversively appropriately mocking).

If we have been called to be Christ’s ambassadors those set apart to show others how awesome a life lived with and in Christ are, how did we screw it up so badly, myself at the top of the list?! There does however appear to be hope. Hope that maybe not us, maybe not Adam, but that one of US got it right. And how cool to know that his service, his love has afforded the rest of us that first class seat. What a beautiful irony…