How would you answer this question: “How will you know when night has passed and a new day is dawning?” Read the following story and maybe it will change your answer.
One evening a wise old man and a few of his students were sitting round a campfire discussing life. It was the dark hour just before daybreak when the stars are shining brightest.
“How will you know when night has passed and a new day is dawning?” he asks them.
“One knows that day’s breaking when you can distinguish that the animal standing in the distance is a sheep and not a sheepdog,” one of the students answers. “Is it the right answer?”
“It’s a good try,” the wise man said, “but not the right one.”
After a while a second student dared an answer. “One knows that the night has passed when there’s enough light to distinguish whether a tree in the distance is a palm tree or a cypress tree.” Once again the wise man shook his head. “Another good answer,” he said, “but not the one I’m looking for.”
After a heavy discussion but not being able to come up with a better answer, the students asked him: “Won’t you please answer it for us? We can’t think of any better answers to your question.”
For a while the wise man stared at each of them in silence, and with compassion in his eyes he said:
“When you look into the eyes of your neighbour and start to see a brother or sister in him or her, you know that a new day has come. For them who never reaches this point it stays dark forever.”
What an answer!
In Matt.20:28 Jesus said that “for even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others.”
But this however goes against the grain of our being because as people we like to be in control. We like to manage, be recognised and acknowledged – which in itself is not always a bad thing.
Jesus however came and said that it should be different for his followers. They have to lead from a kneeling position. In doing so, they will also receive recognition but an eternal kind; not the sort we sometimes long for from this world.
But in hearing this one is oftentimes filled with mixed feelings – it’s almost like you wanna say, “eternal recognition is fine and all, but I want it here also.”
But you also get the feeling (if you do buy into it) that in order for people to actually accomplish this, something needs to happen in us first because it is not our natural inclination to serve; history testifies of this. We don’t bow easily, that’s not who we are.
So I suspect that in order for us to take on a lifestyle contradictory to our natural tendency something in the way we see life and other people in particular needs to be changed – radically!
For example, once I start seeing my neighbour as my brother or sister, serving them also becomes easier, almost naturally to us. But then again someone who never reaches this point will continuously see others as competition or burdens, something in the way of getting all my own needs or that of my family’s met; an inconvenience at best.
Therefore to go through this transformation and letting our views be challenged and eventually changed is almost always hard, painful and never fun. It’s also almost impossible on one’s own – but, necessary nonetheless. Jesus stated that this MUST happen in order for people to achieve true greatness.
Anais Nin once said that “we don’t see things (people) as they are; we see things (people) as we are;” and it is exactly this tendency of our humanness that needs to be transformed in all of us.
Many times we look at people or situations through our own lenses (that’s a reality we cannot escape from it) and handle, manage, serve, generalise, even love them accordingly.
Jesus however asks his followers to offer themselves to be freed from this through his Spirit in order for them to get a new view of reality and thus unlocking the secret to real greatness; “become poor in Me so you can be rich, become weak in Me so you can get to know real strength, start to serve like I did so that you may truly lead etc.”
Now, nobody can force you to do this or even believe it, but I do wanna ask you to consider it – what do we have to lose?
Let me leave you with the following question: “Has a new day dawned for you yet?”
May light and peace fill your life.