MATT. xx. 25–28–But Jesus called them unto him and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it should not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: even as the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
How little this is believed! People think, if they think about it at all, that this is very well in the church, but, as things go in the world, it won’t do. At least, their actions imply this, for every man is struggling to get above the other. Every man would make his neighbour his footstool that he may climb upon him to some throne of glory which he has in his own mind. There is a continual jostling, and crowding, and buzzing, and striving to get promotion. Of course there are known and noble exceptions; but still, there it is. And yet we call ourselves “Christians,” and we are Christians, all of us, thus far, that the truth is within reach of us all, that it has come nigh to us, talking to us at our door, and even speaking in our hearts, and yet this is the way in which we go on! The Lord said, “It shall not be so among you.” Did he mean only his twelve disciples? This was all that he had to say to them, but–thanks be to him!–he says the same to every one of us now. “It shall not be so among you: that is not the way in my kingdom.” The people of the world–the people who live in the world–will always think it best to get up, to have less and less of service to do, more and more of service done to them. The notion of rank in the world is like a pyramid; the higher you go up, the fewer are there who have to serve those above them, and who are served more than those underneath them. All who are under serve those who are above, until you come to the apex, and there stands some one who has to do no service, but whom all the others have to serve. Something like that is the notion of position–of social standing and rank. And if it be so in an intellectual way even–to say nothing of mere bodily service–if any man works to a position that others shall all look up to him and that he may have to look up to nobody, he has just put himself precisely into the same condition as the people of whom our Lord speaks–as those who exercise dominion and authority, and really he thinks it a fine thing to be served.
But it is not so in the kingdom of heaven. The figure there is entirely reversed. As you may see a pyramid reflected in the water, just so, in a reversed way altogether, is the thing to be found in the kingdom of God. It is in this way: the Son of Man lies at the inverted apex of the pyramid; he upholds, and serves, and ministers unto all, and they who would be high in his kingdom must go near to him at the bottom, to uphold and minister to all that they may or can uphold and minister unto. There is no other law of precedence, no other law of rank and position in God’s kingdom. And mind, that is the kingdom. The other kingdom passes away–it is a transitory, ephemeral, passing, bad thing, and away it must go. It is only there on sufferance, because in the mind of God even that which is bad ministers to that which is good; and when the new kingdom is built the old kingdom shall pass away.