Monkey Kingdom

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Matthew 20:28 (NLT)

When my daughter was younger, she enjoyed watching a show (It’s really a documentary) called Monkey Kingdom. The cameras follow this troop of monkeys around the jungle. The narration and action delves into their social interactions with each other. It’s fairly fascinating. The other night, my daughter was watching an episode where the troop members were fighting over various things that had been found in the jungle by one member or another. As she watched, my daughter turned to my wife and provided a thoughtful reflection. “Monkeys are so selfish,” she said. “Why can’t they just share with each other?” Of course, after hearing this, my reaction was “Last night, didn’t you and your brother just throw down over a stuffed animal that neither of you plays with anymore?” Monkeys aren’t the only ones who are selfish.

Have you ever met a truly selfish human being? Someone who only helps themselves? Someone who feels it is their right to take, and take, and take, but never to give? If you haven’t, you need to open your eyes and look in the mirror. Humans are selfish creatures too.

The sad thing is that this selfishness often enters our churches. “I wasn’t fed by the sermon today.” Or, maybe “The praise music didn’t help me worship today.” Or even, “That person’s clothing today is interfering with my worship.” Finally, “The babies making noise are keeping me from focusing on my worship.” Unfortunately, sentiments like this are spoken (both out loud and silently) every week in houses of worship around the world.

But, this begs the question: “Since when did worship become about us?”

As our verse today states, Jesus came to serve, not be served. Church isn’t about fulfilling the needs of individual members. It is about a collective group of people, from all walks of life, coming to offer praise to the King of Kings. Worship is about serving God. Not fed by the sermon? OK, but 20 other people were. (That’s great!) Didn’t like the music selection? The other 100 people did. (Praise God!) Don’t like the clothing choices? Don’t look. Don’t like the noise of kids? Offer to help wrangle them, or invite the family to sit with you so you can help the mom and dad out. Live to serve, not to be served. This is truly the way to worship.

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