Summary: Jesus not only wants his followers to serve but he wants their attitude in so doing to be that of love

Christian Living PK and KB 28-09-08

Story: Robert Fulghum, the American author who wrote “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,” says that he keeps the picture of a woman in his bathroom alongside the mirror in his bathroom who is not his wife.

Every morning as he stood there shaving, he looked at the picture of that woman.

And what is so special about the picture?

The picture is of a small humped-over woman wearing sandals and a blue eastern robe and head dress (sari).

She is surrounded by important-looking people in tuxedos, evening gowns, and the regalia of royalty.

It is the picture of Mother Teresa, receiving the Nobel Peace Prize!

Fulghum says that he keeps that picture there to remind him that, more than any president, more than any pope, more than any chief executive of a major corporation, that woman has authority because she is a servant.

I would like to focus on just one verse this morning from Paul’s epistle to the Philippians

5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

6Who, being in very nature God,

did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,

7but made himself nothing,

taking the very nature of a servant,

being made in human likeness.

You see the kingdom of God is not about power but about serving

On the night of his betrayal, Jesus took on the role of a servant and washed his followers’ feet - something that was countercultural.

It was countercultural because that was the job traditionally of the lowliest servant in the house. It was so countercultural that, at first Peter refused to allow Jesus to wash his feet.

Yet Jesus told him that unless he agreed to allow Jesus to wash his feet he can have no part of Christ’s kingdom.

You see the point Jesus was making is that His Kingdom is not like any other Kingdom.

It is not a “dog eats dog” Kingdom.

In this world we are conditioned to get to the top.

Yet in stark contrast, Jesus’ Kingdom is a kingdom of servanthood.

That is why Jesus said that he who wishes to be the greatest in the Kingdom of God must become the servant of all.

We are called to serve one another.

But serving is not in itself enough

St Paul said:

5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

It is the motivation in God’s Kingdom that counts more than the actual deeds we do

Jesus put it very nicely in John’s Gospel when he said:

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this will all people know that you are my followers, if you love one another” (John 13:34-36)

In other words, if we want to be part of God’s kingdom, it is our attitude that counts.

We are called to serve BECAUSE we love.


The Liberal Prime Minister, William Gladstone, in announcing the death of Princess Alice on 14th December 1878 to the House of Commons, told this touching story.

The little daughter of the Princess was seriously ill with diphtheria.

And so the doctors told the princess not to kiss her because by kissing her she would endanger her own life by breathing in the child’s breath.

Once when the child was struggling to breathe, the mother, forgetting herself entirely, took the little one into her arms to keep her from choking to death.

Rasping and struggling for her life, the child said, "Momma, kiss me!"

Without thinking of herself, Princess Alice tenderly kissed her daughter.

And as a result she contracted diphtheria herself and died some days.

Real love forgets self.

Real love knows no danger.

Real love doesn’t count the cost.

The Bible says, "Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it. (Song of Solomon 8:7)"

Jesus us showed us his great love by making the supreme sacrifice at Easter in AD29.

As St. Paul so succinctly summed the matter up:

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom 5:8)

Of course “Loving your neighbour” was not a new command in itself.

We read in Leviticus 19:18: “Love your neighbour as yourself.”

What is new however is that love is the “Law” of the New Covenant.

The Jews of the Old Covenant kept the commandments of the Torah – our first five books of the Old Testament out of a sense of DUTY.

Jesus in contrast calls our motivation to be different. We are called to LOVE.

What is love?

I think Eugene Peterson in his translation puts it so clearly in his translation of 1 Cor 13:

The Way of Love

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