SERVANTS

Genesis 1-3 – Sunday, June 30, 2019

Being servants does not come naturally for many of us. When we reflect upon our own hearts it is not long before we realize that selfish motives stand behind our service to others. Perhaps we desire recognition or praise (pride). Or we want or need something someone else possesses (envy). Maybe we just want to feel good about ourselves so we serve others (co-dependency). It is difficult to check our motives at the door and selflessly serve someone else because it is the right thing to do.

In our quest to know Christ we are examining His example of service and His teachings about servanthood. Particularly as this challenge relates to grand-scheme ideas, we are looking at the creation and fall of mankind at the beginning, tracing themes through the Old Testament and looking at Christ. This way we set our quest’s compass for navigating the ways of God’s kingdom people for treating each other; particularly as it relates to men and women.

IN THE BEGINNING – GENESIS 1-3

“Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. ” (Genesis 1:26, NLT). From God’s perspective, the only difference between the sexes was a matter of birth order. Adam was born first (2:7), he was placed in the garden to tend and watch over it (2:15), God told him about the 2 trees in the garden (2:16), and he named all of the animals (2:18-20). Then God created Eve from Adam’s rib (2:21-25).

So, of course, the serpent approaches Eve, not Adam (3:1) who had likely told Eve of God’s warning (3:2-3), and, with Adam standing there with her, she reaches for the fruit, takes a bite and hands it Adam, in his silence. And Adam goes along, taking a bite from the fruit, himself (3:6-7).

The consequences of their choice to become their own gods come swiftly as God individually addresses the snake, the woman and the man. In addition to the pain of childbirth, the woman is told that her desire will be for her husband and that he will ‘rule over’ her (3:16). And, so it starts with this idea of male leadership and what it is supposed to look like as Adam, now, names Eve and God banishes both Adam and Eve from the garden with specific instruction to Adam who is sent out of the garden to cultivate the land (3:23).

GOD’S ADJUSTMENTS

History is replete with cultures who have supported male dominance, power and control while imposing lesser status and worse upon women. The Jewish nation was not immune:

“…the second creation account [in Genesis 2-3] was used in later Judaism to support the principle of female subjection to men and to condemn woman as the first sinner.”

Edwards, R. B. “Woman”, International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 1988, Vol. 4, pp. 1090-1091.

Nonetheless, God continued to point towards equality with differing roles, in spite of mankind’s bent. And so, for example, we have God’s instructions for male leadership to provide (Genesis 3:17-19), to lead (Deuteronomy 24:5) and to protect (Malachi 2:15-16).

CHRIST: THE SERVANT LEADER

We would expect Christ’s teaching and example to continue God’s perfectly balanced approach to men and women as he talks about leadership. For me, this is the crucial hinge that prepares us for the writings of Paul as he addresses the differences between men and women in church. We simply ask, how did Jesus define leadership in God’s kingdom?

When Jesus spoke of the glory days when those who are ready and waiting for their Master’s arrival will be rewarded by their Master putting on His apron, pulling out their chairs for them and waiting on them at the banquet table (Luke 12:35-38). Servant Leadership.

Other examples sandwich the Passover meal transformed into the Lord’s Supper as Jesus, who “…knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God.” takes upon Himself the role of a slave and washes the disciples’ feet (John 13:1-5). Then, amazingly, after the supper, Jesus’ disciples begin to argue about who was to be the greatest in the kingdom. Jesus’ instruction is clear:

Jesus told them, “In this world the kings and great men lord it over their people, yet they are called ‘friends of the people.’ But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant. Who is more important, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? The one who sits at the table, of course. But not here! For I am among you as one who serves.

Luke 22:24-27, NLT

PAUL POINTS BACK TO CHRIST

This approach to biblical leadership is validated by the apostle Paul himself as he looks for a metaphor to describe Christ’s relationship to the church. Naturally, of course, Paul appeals to God’s design for the relationship between husband and wife in 1 Corinthians 11:7-8, 11-12, NLT) and men and women in the kingdom of God (Galatians 3:27-29, NLT). They have differing roles and the male is the leader; but, what kind of leader does Paul paint?

THE SERVANT LEADER

Ephesians 5:21-33 sets the stage as Paul describes Christ who “gave up His life” for the church as he points to husbands to make it clear: this is how you do it. In this passage Paul tells how Christ, in laying down His life for the church, honors it, cherishes it and lifts it up in wondrous ways by serving her (5:25-27). This kind of servant leadership reaches back to Moses, Aaron and Miriam, the Old Law and the Prophets, right up through Jesus’ teaching and example, culminating in the cross.

Servnats

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