Those of you familiar with Gospel readings may have noticed that Jesus often turns the tables on his questioners. People come to him with a question that is framed by their fear-based thinking, and he answers these questions from his love-based life.
Often, the questioners are then flooded with even more fear. Why is this? It is because chronic fear does not allow us to think: we can only calculate whether we should fight or flee, whether we are up or down, whether we are in or out, whether we are at an advantage or disadvantage.
As we are at the center of these equations, our stance is by definition defensive.
A Servant of Love
Yet when we answer from a love-based perspective, in which we are not at the center of the equation, we disarm others.
After the disciples James and John ask to be seated on Jesus's left and right when his moment of glory comes, Jesus reframes their question from the house of love rather than the house of fear. Instead of asking, "Am I advantaged?" -- instead of jockeying for power -- he says they should be asking, "Am I a servant or not?"
He is asking them this critical question: Do you want to be a servant of love? Because if the answer is yes, then you must be the servant of all.
A sign of spiritual growth and transformation is when our consciousness and awareness include not only our own welfare but also the welfare of every other human being.
Being a servant of love means loving, serving and caring for all of humankind. As Marianne Williamson said when she visited All Saints recently, "If we really stand for love, it's not just enough to speak for love for our children. The love that will save the world will be the love that expands our hearts to love children on the other side town and on the other side of the world."
Assume the Best of Others
Last week, I received this email:
"I just heard you say on the radio that Jesus said "God loves all people equally." Where does it say that in the bible? If God loves all people equally why does he refer to my people (the Jews, people he created) as the chosen people? Why does he refer to Homosexuals (people he created) as an abomination? How can God love sinners - people he condemns to hell?"
This man is calculating according to a hierarchy of who is or is not worthy. Who is an abomination and who is not? Who is chosen and who is not? Who is going to hell and who is not? This kind of thinking is not the result of thinking out of one's mammalian brain, but calculating out of one's reptilian brain. This is classic fear-based thinking.
Just as Jesus assumes the best of James and John, I will answer this man from the house of love, assuming the best of him. I will explain that in the very heart of all of us there dwells the Goodness of God, the light of the world and the salt of the earth, the divine within, the Word of God through which we were each made.
Were James and John -- and my email questioner, too -- accessing that Beloved energy within them, these questions might have been different. Had they been in touch with God dwelling within them, their question might have been: How can I be great? Do I want to be a servant of love?
How to Be Great
If you want to live your life as a servant of love, my friends, you do have to do some internal work. You do have to baptize your spirit in the same baptism that Jesus had, hearing and believeing how Beloved you are and how Beloved every other person is.
You do have to drink from the cup of grace that Jesus drank from when he became aware that God is much bigger than being an Enforcer.
God seeks to transform each of us to be the Beloved person God created us to be. We do have to be transformed in order to transform others. Only then can we be the servant of all, and only then can we be great.
And surely this is what we should strive toward: Turning the tables on those motivated by fear, and achieving greatness by being a servant of love.