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News and views from the German-language region of Europe

April 17, 2015

"But not so among you!"

Filed under Sabbath Thoughts

It is hard to believe, but on the evening when Jesus kept the Passover with His disciples and gave them the New Covenant symbols of bread and wine, they had an argument about which of them would be considered the greatest (Luke 22:24).

Jesus corrected them by describing the contrasting attitude of humility and service:

"And He said to them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called benefactors. But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves. For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves" (Luke 22:25-27).

The attitude Jesus described reflects the fruit of the holy spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). That attitude brings people together, it has a unifying effect.

The opposite attitude of wanting to be the greatest reflects the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21), which cause division and strife.

What happens when that attitude is present in the church?

We find the answer in the apostle John's third epistle. The aged apostle, who had served his Lord and Master Jesus Christ faithfully for decades, wrote to a member of the church in Ephesus. John mentions the actions of a man named Diotrephes in the local congregation:

"I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us. Therefore, if I come, I will call to mind his deeds which he does, prating against us with malicious words. And not content with that, he himself does not receive the brethren, and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church" (3 John 1:9-10).

Who was Diotrephes? Was he an elder or deacon? We don't know. All we know is that he wanted to be in charge. He treated the apostle John disrespectfully. He put brethren out of the church who disagreed with him. Instead of promoting and strengthening fellowship through an attitude of humility and service, Diotrephes was causing division by his insistence on personal loyalty – just like worldy leaders do.

In His sermon on the mount Jesus tells us that we can know the tree by its fruits. Events of the last 30 years or so in the church of God show us that Diotrephes wasn't the only one desiring the preeminence in the church of God's history.

Let's strive to heed Jesus' instructions to His disciples, given on the last evening of His human life: "But not so among you!"

With these thoughts I wish everyone a rewarding Sabbath!

Paul Kieffer's blog with personal insights and news from the German-language region in Europe.


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