On Discipleship / The Crown and The Towel
Are you choosing the Crown or the Towel? Each represents a path, a different way of modeling your life as a disciple. On of them is actually modeled after Jesus, the other is not.
What path are you walking on?
Are you walking in the wide lane our culture has road mapped and paved, or are you walking on the untrodden, overgrown, ancient path of Jesus?
Falling into the path laid out by culture is deceptively easy. We can be so careful to speak the truth of Jesus, but still get so caught up in our surroundings that we forget the way of Jesus.
When walking the Way of Jesus in the Truth of Jesus, we will have the life of Jesus. One cannot suffice without the other.
How often, then, does our attempt to safeguard the truth of Jesus end up in compromising the Way? We seek to “make Him famous” through marketing campaigns, programmatic efforts, slogans, t-shirts, and any sort of clever scheme we can devise which would be appeasing to believer and non-believer alike.
Yet, isn’t this the sort of crowd-seeking and people-pleasing that the rest of the world devises? Isn’t our attempt to have the largest influence, the greatest programs, and the most efficient ministry teams the exact opposite of how Jesus did it?
Often, we cultivate our messages and campaigns to be crafty and persuasive, while also not being offensive. Jesus, on the other hand purposefully said things which made people leave. He left the crowd and avoided the temptations of the masses for the sake of the few. His whole ministry was devoted to twelve men, and the quaint company that trailed them.
He rejected a formal crown. He rejected a high posture of royalty. He rejected influence and fame. Instead, He dwelled among the weak and insignificant. He favored genuine connections and acts of self-sacrificing love for the sake of others. He denied the attempts of the powers of the day to suck Him into their game.
Our culture says we need to realize our “best self”, and follow dreams and seek “self-actualization”. As if a certain amount of self-help and grand achievements would suddenly awaken a sense of peace and nirvana within our souls. Will “self-actualizing” make us needless? Will it make us more than human?
Is it what we truly are wired to desire?
I think not. I think we are designed to be in weakness. We are designed to need each other. We can’t escape the nearness of our neighbors, and we can’t escape the frailty of our humanity.
Often, our aim is to set ourselves apart as “higher” than the rest, or separate, or individual. Really, the way of Jesus is lowering yourself to the “other”. It’s realizing Jesus is in all people that you meet, and is inside every person you serve. When you’re serving them, meeting their needs, and connecting with their raw humanity, you’re doing so with Jesus.
Between the king’s crown and servant’s towel, Jesus chose the towel. When you choose the towel, there is no job beneath you, no person below you.
Are we choosing the towel? Are we choosing the gritty, raw, unfiltered small acts of service right in front of our noses? Are we hitting the ground running, meeting the needs of our nearest neighbors, even if (perhaps, especially if) we don’t like them or want to be associated with them?
Or are we choosing the crown? Are we choosing the front row seats, and the seat of honor at the banquet? Are we choosing to draw the many with flashing lights and crafty words?
In the scriptures, there’s the way of Empire and there’s the way of the Kingdom. There are kings who are the creators of orphans, widows, and the oppressed. Then, there’s the King who is near to the orphan, widow, and oppressed. There are Kings who exalt their royalty, making a great display of the crown on their head. Then, there’s the King who lays down His crown to take up the towel for the sake of the lowly, the least, and the last.
Between the towel and the crown, let us always choose the towel. Let us always be servants, giving of ourselves for the sake of others.