“For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve…”
Interest in the virgin Mary experienced a great resurgence during the period of the Reformation in the 16th century. This renewed focus was a moment in a long history of adoration centered on Mary which continues to this day among many Christians.
Protestants have not made too much of Mary. But it is not hard to see why she became so prominent. Once the Church moved into the vacuum created by the fall of the Roman empire, both in the Latin west and the Greek speaking east, the weak, suffering, despised Jesus of the cross became the all-powerful triumphant Christ reigning over the heavens. This emphasis supported the politics of the churchmen but it left a lot of ordinary people struggling to relate to an exalted, triumphant Jesus. While the winners raised great marble mega-churches, symbolic of triumph, the losers had to look for someone to understand them. Mary was more down to earth, more accessible. Perhaps she would listen and then gain the ear of her exalted Son who was no longer cast in the role of the weak one, acquainted with grief.
The Church has always been tempted to celebrate the triumph of the empty tomb at the expense of the cross. We call this tendency the ‘Theology of Glory’. None of us have to be taught this theology. You have it in you from birth. Left to ourselves we want a God who fixes all the problems, makes everything work, tells me what to do. The theology of Glory is preoccupied with seeing the evidence of faith in the experiences and successes of our lives. The Theology of Glory wants churches filled with uplifting music and positive sermons that give me the keys to successful living. You probably have a good dose of this in you. You probably want to be a winner. If so, you need conversion.
Ministry does not move from strength, from power, from success. In a real sense, these things can obscure the cross and the faith itself. If you are to minister, you cannot be the strong one. If you are to minister it cannot be about you. You may have some apparent strength that others may lean on, but if it is not also apparent that you know weakness, it is doubtful that you can minister. A friend of mine, paraphrasing the Lord, said it well, ” Winners want to be served. Losers want to serve. Losers make the best ministers.”
“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.”