Strong to Serve
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
- Philippians 2:9-11
The ultimate destiny and goal and end of all strength is service. This powerful secret can radically change the way we view both our strength and our service.
Today’s passage paints a picture of every knee in heaven and on earth and under the earth (no corner left untouched!) bowing to Jesus. The weak and foolish bend down, but so also do the powerful and mighty. Kings and world-beaters join angels and demons and the dead and all respond to the exaltation of Jesus. In the end, strength no longer has an opportunity to serve self. Everything bends toward Jesus.
Our ultimate destiny is to serve Jesus. We will all bow to him one day. That can be life-giving and joy-producing or deeply disturbing and terrifying.
Some of us find ourselves locked in a pitched battle against our own unhealthy selfishness. We slip from wise self-care to hoarding. We harbor petty jealousies. We snap in our strength and belch fire on the ones we love the most. We long for a day when the battle will be over, when we can bow our heads in surrender, and know that the fight will finally end. We dream of that moment. We can close our eyes and imagine Christ accepting our final surrender, beating our swords into plowshares, and accepting us at his table in glory.
Others of us have been running full tilt through the garden of the world, grabbing all the produce that we can carry, and hoping to use our strength to hop over the fence before we’re caught. Our strength serves only us. And we’re not ready to bend the knee or bow our heads. The inevitability in today’s passage can strike us a dictatorial.
The exalted One to whom we’ll all one day bow isn’t a petty tyrant. He’s the ultimate servant. The One whom we will serve will always seek to serve us. Just as he descended to save us, he is exalted to serve us. While we scurry around wasting our strength, he’s exerting his strength for our good.
And he’s both patient and kind. The bowing of knees in today’s passage isn’t accompanied by gritted teeth, but by free declarations acknowledging that Jesus is the One we should serve. We don’t know when this will happen or how we will get from being the selfish selves we are today to those people who willingly bow and speak. But we do know the One who will get us there. And, so, our fears can fade.
Take a few moments today to ask the Lord to increase your heart’s desire to serve.