Jesus, knowing their thoughts, called them to his side and said, “Kings and those with great authority in this world rule oppressively over their subjects, like tyrants. But this is not your calling. You will lead by a completely different model. The greatest one among you will live as the one who is called to serve others, because the greatest honour and authority is reserved for the one with the heart of a servant. For even the Son of Man did not come expecting to be served by everyone, but to serve everyone, and to give his life in exchange for the salvation of many. Matthew 20:25-28 (TPT)
I have been thinking a lot lately about what makes Christians different to followers of other religions. Most religions have values based on love, care and compassion for others, so what makes Christians different. I came to the conclusion that, putting aside all the doctrinal differences between different religions, what makes Christianity stand out is of course Jesus, his identity, his life, what he stood for whilst he walked this earth and by association, our identity, as his followers, in him.
And arguably his most significant act whilst on this earth was his death on the cross for the redemption of the sins of ALL mankind. An ultimate act of sacrifice that has no match in any other human being or God.
That act of sacrifice was an act of obedience to His Father and of love and service to us. It is an act that we, as Christians, are all called to replicate, even today.
- Now we may not be called to die on a cross, although some Christians still do in some parts of the world, but we are called to sacrifice our own comfort and our own freedom for others.
- We are called to serve one another which too often we translate as serving our brothers and sisters in Christ, forgetting to extend this act of service to those who do not yet know Him, those who attack us, who ridicule us and who despise us.
- We are called to forgive, even the unforgivable and to offer grace and mercy to those who hurt us.
- We are called to include ALL in our prayers and act of love and compassion, even those who are different to us in what they look like, what they believe and what they do.
Nelson Mandela famously wrote whilst in prison: “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”
As Christians, we have a responsibility to ensure that the freedom we have been given by Jesus when he died for us, is made available to all, whether they know Christ or not.
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2