I’ve wanted to achieve greatness for as long as I can remember. For years, the drive surged from the dark underbelly of pride that scratched and clawed to be let loose. It was an ugly desire–baring nothing good or wholesome about it. 

I think the desire for greatness is not altogether bad. The desire to succeed has driven many a person to become world-changers in their own right. The conviction that drives creation and improvisation, in and of itself, is not a wicked thing. The trouble arises when we misuse our gifts, misunderstand our purpose and mishandle our desires. The trouble is, we forget the One who equips and calls us to such labor. Like the disciples, we want the glory apart from suffering. 

In Luke 22, Jesus is gathered with the disciples at the Last Supper when they begin to argue about which one of them is considered the greatest. As Jesus prepares to head to the cross, the 12 are concerned about which one of them will be remembered above the others. At first read, I balk at their audacity. I can’t imagine sitting beside the SON OF GOD, bickering with my friends about who among us would be considered great. But my inability to imagine the audacity of this scene only stems from my pride, because as quickly as I have that thought, I recognize that the only reason I cannot imagine it is because I have already claimed my own greatness over that of the disciples. I would never do that, I presume. And in that quick twisting of thoughts, I find myself there at the table, tossing my own name in the ring for greatness. 

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Jesus silences their dispute by telling them that the greatest among them ought to become like the youngest, He asks them who is greater, the one who reclines at the table or the one who serves? “Is it not the one who reclines at the table?” Jesus asks. (Luke 22:27) Then, He likely blew their minds when He immediately tells them that the one who reclines at the table is He who serves–in other words, the greatest among them is Christ Himself (“the one who reclines at the table”). Then in an act of true hospitality, Jesus extends to them, a permanent invitation to “eat and drink” at His table in His kingdom, but assures them of the suffering that must come first.

Tim Chester paraphrases Jesus this way, “if you endure suffering with me, then you will experience the joy of my eternal feast,” reiterating, “Jesus promises suffering followed by glory.” He then reminds us, that “if you follow the way of the cross, then you will experience the glory of the resurrection.”

He silences their pride, redirecting the conversation to the truth of what greatness is–who greatness is, which is found in God’s perfect Son. Jesus sets the table for the very men who would soon fail to keep watch and wait with Him. He sets the table for us, who routinely fail to uphold the standards and example He set for us.

The Host of Heaven remembers His disciples (and us) with a generous act of mercy and love. I continue to marvel at the utterly undeserved patience of Christ for the folly of humanity. Grace upon grace. 

The greatest is the one who serves.

I love the mercy exhibited in the passages of Luke 22. Like the disciples, we crave the status of greatness, and often clamor for the thrones of our own lives, eager to lord over all we deem good and right and salutary. But what we forget–what I forget–is that the greatest is the one who serves. The greatest is the one who embraces the cost, willingly sacrificing, bending to offer themselves in the name of hospitality. Greatness is only achieved when all things are in their proper order, beneath the foot of the cross. 

GraceTable

 

Kris / Posts / Blog

Kris is a writer and artist living in the middle of Ohio. She loves Jesus, people, and words. She is most often found in her tiny kitchen, where she plays with her food. Having recently mastered the art of preparing perfectly crisp dino-nuggets–she is her children’s hero.

  • Dawn
    http://www.journeysingrace.com/

    Your words opened my eys to that scripture in a new way. I has to go back and read over a few places to absorb what you were sharing, but it was good. I love how you draw it back to Jesus’ invitation and the reality of accepting His inquiry if grace. So many times in our hurry we hesitate to read between the lines. There is eternity nestled in the pause and resting in each extension of grace. Blessed by your offering!
    Dawn

    June 29th, 2015 11:06
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    • Kris Camealy
      http://kriscamealy.com/

      Thanks for reading Dawn. So grateful you joined me here today!

      June 30th, 2015 19:47
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  • Leah Adams
    http://www.leahadams.org/

    Oh gee, I am right there with you…desiring greatness. It has taken me many years of smacks by the Holy Spirit to teach me that greatness in His eyes may look very different than greatness in my eyes, or those of the world. To the woman whose son had died and was raised by Jesus’ touch, His act was the greatest. He was a rock star in her eyes. Yes, He did great, mind-blowing, crowd pleasing miracles, but really, I think the people most impacted by Him were those He touched personally…face to face. That is the kind of greatness I desire….to touch individual hearts, face to face, and show them Jesus.

    June 29th, 2015 11:31
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    • Kris Camealy
      http://kriscamealy.com/

      I love your heart, Leah. šŸ™‚ there’s nothing like being face to face.

      June 30th, 2015 19:47
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  • Meredith Bernard

    “The greatest is the one who embraces the cost, willingly sacrificing, bending to offer themselves in the name of hospitality.ā€ This sums it all up, Kris. This sums up the life of Christ and the life we are called to as His children in His example. Beautiful, soul-stirring words today. And Iā€™m being made to reflect on how poorly I live this example, yet with a heart committed to do better in and by His grace. <3

    June 29th, 2015 13:24
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    • Kris Camealy
      http://kriscamealy.com/

      I do it poorly too, Meredith. That’s where we can fall into grace and remember that Jesus knows our struggle. And loves us still.

      Thanks for showing up here. I love sitting by you at the table.

      June 30th, 2015 19:46
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  • Robin Dance
    http://www.pensieve.me/

    Kris,

    I understand your thoughts all too well from the inside out :). I hate my pride because as much as I can put my finger on it, there are slippery aspects to it that hide themselves well.

    There’s such an odd tension in the writing world; all this talk of “platform” out there makes me ill :/. In part, because it’s solely focused on advancing self, but also the pieces of it where I’ve tried to build my own.

    This is what has kept me anchored to real world living; I KNOW my desire to advance “self” and until that dies, I will not pursue bigger things (as they relate to writing). I know that’s not specifically what you’re talking about, but it’s what resonates with me. I want to kill that glory hog once and for all. He’s tenacious, though, and for now…I’m just seeking God and his righteousness….

    Good stirring of thoughts. šŸ™‚

    June 30th, 2015 11:59
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    • Kris Camealy
      http://kriscamealy.com/

      Robin, I understand what you are saying…more than I wish I did. Writing is where I struggle most with this too, because we have to contend with the idea of “platform” (a word I also dislike) and yet remain focused on Christ. Interestingly enough, when my eyes ARE fixed on Him, the struggle is so much less, it’s when I turn from Him and look at myself that I wrestle the most.

      We can talk more about this, but lets just say, this is a place where I have been walking closely with God as I have been begging Him to kill the “glory hog” once and for all…and He hasn’t yet, but He is teaching me things through the struggle, that are life-changing.

      June 30th, 2015 19:45
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