By Femi Aribisala
A disciple of Jesus is never a master but a servant. Jesus loves as a servant: therefore, so should we.
On 21st April, 2013, Douglas Anele wrote an article in Vanguard newspaper entitled: “Femi Aribisala and his Errand-Boy God” in response to my earlier article: “The God who Does Not Exist.” In my article, I detailed many astonishing things the God Douglas says does not exist did for me. Douglas’ position was that the God who would do all such things would amount to no more than my errand-boy.
When I read Douglas’ title, I could not resist a smile. Little did he know how close he came to the kingdom of God with that insult. The knowledge that God is a servant of men comes from my being a child of God, while Douglas is an atheist. The God I serve is oh so amazing! Yes, he is my Lord and my Master; but he is also, most astonishingly, my servant. He shows his love for me by serving me. Isaiah says: “You shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, ‘here I am.’” (Isaiah 58:9). Jesus confirms this, saying: “Ask, and it will be given to you.” (Luke 11:9).
Jesus reveals God as our provision. He observes that God is the faithful provider for even the birds of the air. Although they don’t sow, reap our gather into barns, yet the heavenly father feeds them. If God thereby serves birds by feeding them, why would he not serve us, who are his children and are created in his image and likeness? Surely, man is far more valuable to God than birds. (Matthew 6:26-30). The psalmist concurs. He says to God: “The eyes of all look expectantly to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.” (Psalm 145:15-16).
When we search the scriptures, we see that from the beginning of creation, God reveals the very nature of himself as a servant. God is the one who plants a garden east of Eden on his hands and knees. (Genesis 2:8). It is God who puts his hands in the dirt to form Adam and then mould Eve.
When he felt Adam was lonely, servant-God became his match-maker and created Eve: “And the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.’” (Genesis 2:18). When Adam and Eve sinned and became aware of their nakedness, servant-God became their tailor: “Also for Adam and his wife the LORD God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.” (Genesis 3:21). When Abram was childless, servant-God became his “Jehovah-jireh” and gave him Isaac.
It is servant-God who takes it upon himself to serve the Israelites by redeeming them from Egypt. He served them by providing “electricity” for them by night and a shade in the daytime as he carried them on eagle’s wings and led them to himself. (Exodus 13:21). Thus, Isaiah declares of our incredibly-wonderful servant-God: “You have been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shade from the heat.” (Isaiah 25:4).
Jesus says: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you.” (John 13:34). If we are to love as Jesus loves, then we need to appreciate fully how Jesus loves. Jesus loves by being a servant of men. He loves by laying down his life for us. He says: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (John 15:12-13).
Thereby, Jesus reveals something absolutely revolutionary. So revolutionary, it confounds men like Douglas. If it had not come from Jesus, we might have deemed it sacrilegious. God is a servant of men. “God is the first servant,” declares Benzak Uzuegbu. “But although he serves men, it is important to note he is not a servant to men.”
A disciple of Jesus is never a master but a servant. Jesus loves as a servant: therefore, so should we. A disciple of Jesus is never a shepherd but a sheep. We should not arrogate ourselves as “Men of God.” We must see ourselves as “children of God.”
Jesus did not become a servant by coming to earth. He has always and will always be a servant. Jesus does not become like us as a servant. He invites us to become like God as loving servants. He says: “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:44-45).
Jesus is the master, but he loves by washing the feet of his servants. Jesus says: “Since I, the Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.” (John 13:14-15). That is kingdom dynamics. The master becomes the servant of his servants. We do not love others by being their boss. We love them by being their servant.
Thus, Jesus cautions us against being like the pompous Pharisees: “Their lives are perpetual fashion shows, embroidered prayer shawls one day and flowery prayers the next. They love to sit at the head table at church dinners, basking in the prominent positions, preening in the radiance of public flattery, receiving honorary degrees, and getting called ‘Doctor’ and ‘Reverend’. Don’t let people do that to you, put you on a pedestal like that. You all have a single Teacher, and you are all classmates.” (Matthew 23:5-8).
Jesus says: “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-45).
This means we are required to give our lives as a ransom for others, even as Christ did. We must not see Christ’s ransom as exclusive to Christ, according to erroneous doctrines of atonement. We must see it as the example we are required to follow. The shepherd does not walk for the sheep: the sheep follows the shepherd.
It is humbling to know that God Almighty chooses to be our servant. Zechariah says: “Tell the people of Israel, ‘Look, your King is coming to you. He is humble, riding on a donkey.’” (Matthew 21:5). How then can any man be uppity after this? Jesus says: “When you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’” (Luke 17:10).
God is a servant of men
By Femi Aribisala