They said unto him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory. Mark 10:37
We want power. We want to be seen. We want our political objectives met. We want our financial institutions to give us great reward and we want God’s vengeance on anyone or anything that stands in our way. We have left our responsibilities so that we can assume our rights. We want God to grant that we sit on the right or left of Christ. We don’t ask that He would let us sit at His feet. The disciples had this greedy grant mentality.
The thing that makes this discourse so unnerving is that Jesus had just explained how he would soon be tortured and murdered for offending those who were on the right and left. These disciples were men who were close to the Savior. Maybe I should restate that. These were men who were near him in physical proximity, but very far removed from Him spiritually. They had their agendas. They had their aims. They wanted the kingdom to come to crush the Romans, the religious zealots, the unclean gentiles and of course, they wanted to be able to sit on the right and left hands of Jesus and watch it all unfold.
Author Jerry Bridges writes in Respectable Sins of the sin of moral Self-Righteousness. The pride of the Pharisee in Jesus’ parable was what we can call moral self righteousness. It expresses itself in a feeling of moral superiority with respect to other people…., It is found in the political and cultural realms among the liberals and conservatives. Anyone who behaves, for example, that he holds the moral high ground in any area such as politics, economics, or environmental policy is likely indulging in moral self-righteousness. Sadly, however, it is very common among conservative evangelical believers….the sin we fall into is the sin of moral self righteousness toward those who practice those sins (immorality, easy divorce, homosexual lifestyle, drug addiction).
Lest we forget, when Jesus spoke of the The Least of These My brethren, He also meant the Least worthy of these. The pedophile needs Christ just as much as the molested child. The battered woman neeeds Christ just as much as the man who battered her.
The drug addict and the pusher both need Jesus. The Wall Street Baron and the Main Street Bum are in need of the same salvation. The prostitute needs the same Jesus as does the man who uses him or her as an object. These least worthy of these are people like you and me…., all in need of salvation by grace and grace alone. That is neither a left or right issue. That is an at the feet service of surrender. Paul attested to such in his letter to Timothy;1 Timothy 1:15This [is] a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I AM chief.
I do believe we need extremists. We need them on the right and the left. As Martin Luther King Jr. said we need Creative Extremists. The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be… The nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists
The world needs creative extremists; people willing to create a dialogue that ministers to the poor and powerless without indicting the rich and powerful. Both groups feel entitled. While I do support the notion of human rights, as far as I can tell, it is not a Biblical mandate. The only thing that Christ mandates is that we love one another, care for one another, minister to the needs of one another. That is, we are called to serve. We are called not to sit on the right or left of any particular issue, but at the feet of those who feel left out. We are called to serve, wash the unclean feet of the homeless as well as apply lotion to the well heeled in our society. That is the work of creative extremists.
As long as the church thinks of itself as an organization to support causes, and not an organism to minister to people, we will ask God for our Greedy Grants. Grant that I should have this right, this wealth, this power, this position because after all, I deserve it. It is in the constitution, the UN human rights mandate, encoded in state and federal law and of course since I am a child of God, I deserve it.
Unless and until we surrender in service, until we become the creative extremists on the right and the left, we will never sit at the feet of Christ in surrender. That surrender is service.