Do Something Great
On Sunday, I spoke about – and challenged us – to “be great”. And by “great”, I didn’t mean what we typically think of as being “great”. I meant “great” in the way that Jesus showed us and leads us on:
Compelled by great compassion, we are called to be a great commission people, in the way of the great commandment.
But if we want to “be great,” there’s two more “greats” I want to mention to you. The first, by way of warning. And the second, by way of challenge.
The first: great crash.
In the very end of the sermon on the mount (Matthew 5-7), Jesus gives a very clear, very direct, and very dire warning to us. In the sermon, he shows us what it looks like to be an ‘upside-down’, Kingdom-of-God-shaped people – and then he ends it with a well known illustration. He tells us that whoever “hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock”, and regardless of the storm surge that presses into it, the house will stand. But whoever “who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.” When the same storm surge came up against it, it got beat up and “it fell with a great crash.”
Jesus’ point is clear. Hearing his words and putting them into practice is how a strong foundation and structure is built. Hearing his words – and not acting on them – is how we think we’ve built something for ourselves, but really, it’s simply destined to collapse. That’s his point.
What’s my point? If we want to “be great” – and avoid a “great crash” – make it a practice to put into practice what you’ve heard Jesus say. Take some time today to read, and re-read, Jesus’ sermon on the mount. Pick something, and put it into practice today. Be “great”.
The second: great challenge.
A few times in Jesus’ ministry, the question of “true greatness” pops us. You can read it in Matthew 18:1-5 and Matthew 20:20-28 (whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant), for instance. What does it truly look like to “be great”? Jesus is pretty clear here again: it looks like being a servant in a world of tyrants, like being a humble child in a world of puffed-up adults, like being last in a world of firsts.
And this great challenge accompanies the great commandment perfectly, because to love your neighbor, you have to take the posture of a servant. That’s what love is, and that’s what love does.
So if you want to “be great”, read and re-read John 13, and then go and do likewise.