I doubt that I have ever done a truly selfless act in my life. My actions fall into the range of slightly selfless to fully selfish. I don’t want it to be that way, I pray that it wouldn’t be that way, but it is what it is.
When I recite prayers from Scripture and sing songs in church, what I’m saying is often more an expression of desire than reality. One example is when I pray in the Lord’s Prayer, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on Earth . . . ”
When John the Baptist was confronted with Jesus’ rising popularity, his response was, “a man can receive only what is given him from heaven” (John 3:27). The point is that John understood his need to be content with the ministry that he was given and not seek something bigger.
How many times have we seen leaders fall into the trap of allowing their ministry to become their god and displace the true God as their object of devotion? Over time the ministry becomes bigger than the God they seek to worship. Some have had meteoric rises followed by spectacular crashes. I’m sure that several names of fallen leaders readily come to your mind as you read this.
Like the Pharisee in the Temple, it is easy for me to look at these leaders in judgment and derision. But when I stop and reflect, the only difference between me and those leaders is the daring it takes to step out to do something big in the first place.
The point of this is that if I truly want Jesus’ kingdom to come, I must seek the king for the role he wants me to play, play it to the best of my ability and be content with that role.
In America we are brought up with the idea that to be in any place other than first place is to be a loser. This is the idea behind the phrase, “second place is first loser.” This, unfortunately, carries over into the church and causes men and women to seek ever greater positions to bolster their sense of advancement. The problem is that this advancement does more to advance selfish desires than the kingdom of God.
As Tim Keller reminds me, I am more deeply flawed than I could ever know, but I am more deeply loved than I could ever imagine. By God’s grace, the flaws diminish as I respond in obedience and the selfishness, while still there holds less sway than it did. As I look to Christ for my identity, I am increasingly content with whatever role I am given and have less drive to be something greater in the eyes of the people around me.
I also take comfort in the fact that there is nothing I can do to derail God’s plan. He knows my selfish tendencies and can use me despite my flaws. This is not an excuse to give sway to the flaws, but it is a means of putting them in perspective.
Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done . . . anyone else have a similar struggle?