Service to God and people is the highest calling

It’s the 39th day of counting the omer – we’re almost there! Each day I post a little something to help me count. Previously I wrote about Bob Dylan, John Lennon, and the wicked generation. Today, the weighty cost of being a servant of Messiah.

Image result for jesus wash feet

Paul identifies himself as a “servant of Messiah Yeshua” in the opening to his letter to Rome. Paul makes two powerful theological statements in doing so:

  1. The life of a follower of Messiah is one of service; servants serve.
  2. Messiah is an appearance of God.

Life of service

Paul was powerful, relatively well-off socially and financially, held authority and respect among his peers. Trained under one of the greatest sages of Judaism, he was an expert in Torah; he remained a lifelong Pharisee even after coming to know Messiah. Engaged with the prevailing Roman culture and Hellenized world, he also was a Roman citizen with a command of Hellenistic philosophy and extra-biblical Judaic writings.

He was a big man, so to speak. Top dog.

But he he doesn’t push himself as a big man. He identifies as a low class slave. “I, Paul, slave of the Messiah Yeshua”, he says.

Slaves in the 1st century were at the bottom. Not respected, no autonomy, somebody else’s property.

Why does a powerful, educated, respected man identify as a slave?

Same reason Moses, Joshua, David, Abraham and others identified themselves as servants of God: God does big things through humble people.

Indeed, 2000 years later, we see what God did: turned a wicked and idolatrous empire – the Roman Empire and its Imperial Cult religion – to instead serve the God of Israel through Israel’s Messiah.

God made that happen primarily through Paul.

And it’s because Paul lived as a servant.

Servants sacrifice their own will for the sake of their master. Even though Paul had education, prestige, recognition among his peers, and a powerful place in society, he gave it all up.

God did big things through Paul, and it’s why we’re still talking about him 2000 years later.

Messiah is an appearance of God

Moses, David, Joshua, and Abraham all identified themselves as “servant of the LORD” - עבד יהוה - a servant of God himself.

Paul, says he is a servant of Messiah. Is being a servant of Messiah different or lesser than being a servant of YHWH? No.

Messiah, being the fullness of God, is an appearance of Hashem on earth. Paul has no qualms about saying he is a servant of Messiah; being a servant of Messiah is being a servant of Hashem. In identifying himself as a servant of Messiah, Paul affirms Messiah’s divine identity.

This is why Paul threw away all his credentials and social status: to know Messiah is to know God, to serve Messiah is better than status, riches, honor. By lowering himself to servant of Messiah, all the status, honor, praise, respect due to Paul is redirected to the Messiah for God’s glory.

The highest calling

Unlike Islam, the highest calling is not making war on the unbelievers.

Unlike atheism, the highest calling is not “serving yourself”, as John Lennon once narcissistically penned.

The highest calling for people who believe in the God of Israel and the Messiah of Israel is this: serving God and serving other people.

Serving means not always having to be right. Serving means doing things for other people even if you don’t feel like it. Serving means doing charity when there’s no human reward to do so.

This is the ultimate calling for disciples of Yeshua. It’s why the greatest commandments are to love God with everything you have, and love your neighbor as yourself. The nuts and bolts of loving is service. If you love God, you’ll spend your time in life doing things for God’s glory. If you love people, you’ll spend your time in life doing things for those people.

Mishlei says if we do these things, we will “gain favor and a good name
in the eyes of God and man.” (Proverbs 3)
When you die, people will remember and talk about the things you did for people and for God. Nobody will remember you for how much TV you watched, how much partying you did, or any self-serving activity. But they will remember your service to others.

Likewise, when you stand before God, what  reward is there is saying, “Well, I took care of my own needs before everybody else, all the time”?

Gain favor with men and with God: be a servant. Live so that people will miss you when you’re dead. Serve God, serve other people.

The greatest heroes of the Bible did this, and we still talk about them today.

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Husband, dad, disciple of the Jewish Messiah Yeshua, technologist. Author of Chavah Messianic Radio, MessianicChords, and EtzMitzvot. @judahgabriel


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