Upside Down


Amy Oden

Church of the Resurrection Insights Blog


Mark 10:43: “But that’s not the way it will be with you. Whoever wants to be great among you will be your servant” (Mark 10:43).


Jesus’ preaching about the kin-dom of God can sound like crazy talk. Jesus says that God’s way of life reverses our everyday expectations: The first shall be last and the last shall be first. Whoever wants to be in charge must be servant of all. The smallest things (a seed, yeast) produce the greatest abundance. Jesus challenges our assumptions about reality, turning things upside down.


In my own life, I’ve sought after status the world offers, though perhaps I didn’t call it that. First, I wanted the PhD, so I would have the credential that others would respect and call me “Dr Oden.” Then, I wanted to be a professor and gain tenure, the prize that signaled I had “made it,” that I would be taken seriously, students and colleagues would respect me and I’d have career security. Then, I needed to publish a book, to prove I deserved the position I had gained. I was proud to publish my first book – now I’d made it!


Sound familiar? What series of steps have you followed to gain status? To get to the top? We spend our lives following prescribed paths to respectability yet rarely do we find abundant life there. Each prize we gain only sets out another one that must be pursued. A never-ending shell game of false identity, false security.


Then I hear Jesus say, “But that’s not the way it will be with you. Whoever wants to be great among you will be your servant” (Mark 10:43) and everything shifts. Now I see the hunger to learn that pulled me into graduate work, the possibility of serving through my teaching and scholarship. Jesus’ words re-focus me toward walking alongside students and explorers, pastors and shepherds. Yes! This is the way that leads to real Life, abundant Life, eternal Life. Here and now.


What do you hear Jesus saying to you today? How does Jesus animate your servant heart, bringing it alive? Follow him there.