Sunday, 22 June 2008

Mr Rhino teaches us about Symbiosis and Servanthood

At church we are talking a lot about servanthood. Sometimes certain christian cultures make the language of losing self and taking up cross sound very degrading and diminishing. Of course, these phrases Jesus uses are about counting cost - but they are also about counting benefit - finding self, finding real abundant life. We are not just servants of God but more, we are called friends and if its true that we are all created to live best when we are interconnected to God and each other then perhaps we have a whole wonderful world of symbiosis to discover! Now that's a big word - I'll let my daughter's favorite Rhino explain -


mark said...

from the mouth of babes and purple rhinos...

Can you expand on the following comment you make?

"these phrases Jesus uses are ...also about counting benefit - finding self, finding real abundant life."

DS said...


Sorry everyone – Mark got me started!

Counting benefit - I don't mean in a mercenary way where Jesus is a spiritual product that we chose to consume because his guilt busting, ticket for heaven waving, parking space guaranteeing, brand fits in with our aspirations.

I mean – Jesus and his kingdom as a pearl of great price, treasure in a field that I sell everything to buy. I don't think that the radical benefits to me, as an everyday contingent human, of being reconciled to God and included in his growing Shalom are just for escaping hell and getting my own cloud in heaven. They are for NOW - to coin a phrase with credit to the RSPCA/Christian Aid - JESUS is for LIFE not just for death.

I think Jesus tells us that walking his path is inherently costly, potentially extremely so BUT it is also the blueprint for humanity, the way of friendship with God himself, peace with others and life in all its fullness. As a consumer I might not chose 'brand cross' but as a struggling broken human being yearning for meaning and beauty etc - I would - besides the cross it not "God wants to torture me so I must be willing victim" (sadly a mentality you hear sometimes included in people’s (partially religion induced?) low self image) - it is God saying "I am with you in this, I will do what you cannot do so you can have in me what you never even dreamt of.

This walking with Jesus is both more challenging than I could ever imagine because I am more broken, weak and sinful than you would believe, but also more gentle, kind, hopeful, just, joyful, completing and fulfilling than I can ever imagine.

Lose it to find it said Jesus

Lose it, not for the sake of it - because we all deserve to suffer but to find it, because God invites us to dare to trust him and find a whole new life in him that makes everything else seem like ....

(There is a nasty, nasty sinful thing that gets attached to Jesus called the 'myth of redemptive violence', the idea that violence can be good – sadly it legitimises all sorts of abuse. It has a flip side (equally nasty), needed to make it powerful -the myth that all suffering is redemptive – it isn’t! (so forget that ‘just take it (you deserve it/its intended for good’) thing – that’s what they told the natives, the slaves the blacks etc, etc as they were crushed) Jesus says challenge and change it with grace and goodness)

Jesus is redemptive and following him is redemptive for the whole world, violence and suffering happen but embracing them it not the point – embracing and following Jesus and joining in on the redemption of the world from sin, violence and suffering is. (that’s sounds so good it might be worth me…...))

DS said...

God doesn’t force us, guilt us, blackmail or emotionally manipulate us will conditional love – he invites in Christ to work with him like he came to work with us

mark said...

Thanks for the clarification - I should never have asked!

By the way, I think the Christian Aid slogan was the slightly more snappy - "I believe in life before death" (unless I've missed a more recent one) Anyway, its a good one.

DS said...

Yes you got me going there and the Jesus is for life not just death is meant to be a mash up of 'A dog is for life not just christmas' & 'We believe in life before death'

Interested to know other less heard voices on this servanthood one as well?