In reminding us that service is the way to follow, Jesus turns our ideas of greatness upside-down. His very life speaks of this paradox, of how God takes the foolish and apparently insignificant things of the world and breathes His power and life into them. 1 Cor 1:18-25 shows us how different God’s ways and thoughts are to our own and this is demonstrated constantly in the Bible when we see the underdog triumphing through God’s power alone.
It defied logic to think that one young inexperienced shepherd could defeat a powerful warrior like Goliath, but amazing things are possible when God is with us! (1 Sam 17:1-58). It made no sense to think that Gideon ( ‘my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.’ (Judges 6:15)) could rout the Midianites with an army whittled down to 300 men (see Judges 6 & 7). But as Joshua said, ‘one of you routs a thousand because the Lord your God fights for you, just as he promised.’ (Joshua 23:10) The Bible is full of underdog stories, where the least experienced wins because God is fighting for them!
The most astonishing underdog story in the Bible is told in the Gospels: how ‘God brings about world-changing salvation when a young, unimportant Jewish girl gives birth to a baby of mysterious paternity’ in a stable in Bethlehem, far away from the pizzazz of the palace at Jerusalem (quote taken from ‘Faith-Mapping’ by Daniel Montgomery & Mike Cooper, P 143) The story of Jesus is the story of God moving in unexpected and mysterious ways, His wonders to perform (William Cowper), for Jesus was not a conqueror or a scholar, but a simple carpenter whose three-year teaching ministry ended in ignominious defeat on a cross on the hill called Golgotha… yet whose sacrifice ‘is the hinge of history, shaping everything before and since in relation to his execution.’ (ibid.) We have to lay down our desire to know and our human way of reasoning to embrace God’s ways and follow the example of our Servant King:
‘This is our God, the Servant King,
He calls us now to follow Him
To bring our lives as a daily offering
Of worship to the Servant King.
So let us learn how to serve
And in our lives enthrone Him
Each other’s needs to prefer
For it is Christ we’re serving.’ (‘The Servant King’, Graham Kendrick)