We begin today's devotion with two scripture readings from Mark's Gospel. Mark 9:33-37: 33 They entered Capernaum. When they had come into a house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about during the journey?” 34 They didn’t respond, since on the way they had been debating with each other about who was the greatest. 35 He sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be least of all and the servant of all.” 36 Jesus reached for a little child, placed him among the Twelve, and embraced him. Then he said, 37 “Whoever welcomes one of these children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me isn’t actually welcoming me but rather the one who sent me.”
Mark 10:42-45: 42 Jesus called them over and said, “You know that the ones who are considered the rulers by the Gentiles show off their authority over them and their high-ranking officials order them around. 43 But that’s not the way it will be with you. Whoever wants to be great among you will be your servant. 44 Whoever wants to be first among you will be the slave of all, 45 for the Human One [or Son of Man] didn’t come to be served but rather to serve and to give his life to liberate many people.
I remember asking my mom and dad who was their favorite? They would answer, you are our favorite son. ( I was their only son) But I think it is natural to wonder if we are the favorite sometimes. I believe we are all born with an "ego" and inherently need to know we matter or want to be recognized as a special person or chosen one. We can see this in our work place, at home, with friends, and even at church. I once read an article of a large church that became embattle because some knew the pastor personally and some did not and it became almost a badge of honor to those who knew him and separation happened.
An acronym associated with "ego" is "edging God out." Ego by definition is a person's sense of self-esteem or self-importance. It is a part of us that can trigger feelings of fear, selfishness, and separation. When our egos are threatened, they go into overdrive telling us we are better than others. It is a protection mechanism, but if we aren’t careful, it can cost us relationships, opportunities, and separate us from God.
With the world in chaos, churches struggling I thought of this acronym in my own life and how true it is. This past week I took a couple days off and reflected. I looked at my own ego and the need for self importance or esteem. I know when I am feeling connected to God, I am less worried about my own importance and less afraid of being rejected by people. When I forget to notice God’s presence in my life, or become lax with my conversations with God, I notice that I have more of a need for recognition, achievement, and proving myself to others.
When we get caught up in ourselves, being the favorite, we may look more confident to some. We may even attract people to us but we might be edging God out. The church becomes about a youth leader, pastor or worship leader and not about God. The disciples brought this to our attention. Now it is up to us to stay aware of it and trust God’s unconditional love for every one of us. I hope you are able to join us this morning as we share in this unconditional love where everyone is welcome and the Word of God is alive.
Almighty God, Lord Jesus, in your kingdom you tell us, the last are first—and you know I hate to be last. Turn my values right side up, that I may truly be all in as a citizen of your kingdom. Father, I pray for this nation in the same way. May I get my attention off individuals and myself and instead place it on You and Your teachings for me in this life and the next.Lord Jesus, I thank you for the reminder you blessed me with this week as I fall before you in humbleness and gratitude. Father, I lift this to You in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Meet the pastor
Rev. Pastor Carl Schreiber has been serving East Orrington Congregational Church (EOCC) since March 12, 2006