Monday, December 9, 2013

Supporting Roles

A crown from "The Residence" in Munich, Germany
 Can you imagine Batman without Robin, the Lone Ranger without Tonto, or Superman without Lois Lane?  It wouldn't seem right if each of these heroes didn't have someone who supports the action.  Their role, while not the central one, is important to the unfolding events and drama.  Of course, if you are an actor in a supporting role, it is easy to feel like a second fiddle because you are not the center of attention.  However, we had a saying when I was in college theater, "There are no small parts.  Only small actors."  The meaning was obvious.  Every part in a play is critical to the whole picture which the author is trying to present.  Therefore, all actors need to do their best no matter the size of their role.  The same can be said for believers as well.
     Looking at the life of the Apostle Paul, we can see that a number of men came along side and offered support, encouragement, and assistance to him as he made his missionary journeys.  Barnabas was known as "the son of encouragement" and Timothy became like a son to Paul.  In these situations, these men provided support to this man called by God that was invaluable.  This is why they are mentioned in scripture because there are no small roles in the Kingdom of God.
     Paul gave us instructions about how to exercise our gifts as members of the Body of Christ in Romans 12:3-8, and in so doing, he affirmed the value of supporting roles.  He began by stating that we should have a realistic opinion of ourselves:  "For by the grace given to me, I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned" (vs. 3).  Then, he concludes this section by calling us to unselfish and genuine love for one another:  "Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another" (vs. 10).  Another version of the New Testament by J.B. Phillips translates this verse "...a willingness to let the other man have the credit."  That is so contrary to our nature isn't it?  We want to be first, best, recognized, awarded, chief, king, leader.  How many times have we cried out, "Nobody appreciates how hard I work or recognizes anything I do!"  However, we have to keep one thing in mind.  Our gifts and abilities are given to us by God's grace and according to His plan.  We are to use these gifts by faith (vs. 3 and 6) in service and love for Christ.  It is for HIS GLORY not our own that we live, move and have our being.
     Ever since the Garden, man, in his fallen state, has desired to sit upon the throne of his life displacing God the Father.  He has wanted to control his destiny and rule his own affairs.  When we come to Jesus Christ, God gives to us a new heart that desires to serve and please Him.  While the old flesh is crucified and the power of sin is cancelled, we will still struggle with the old desire to be in the spotlight setting the pace instead of allowing the Spirit to direct our steps.  This is the battle we face, and because we live in this world, we are daily tempted to pick up the old thought patterns of "me first".    Therefore, it is imperative that we put on the mind of Christ by reading His Word and allowing it to renew our minds.  We belong to Christ now.  We are no longer our own, so whatever role he gives to us whether major or minor, let us be content with that position.  Likewise, we must remember the words of our Savior when He was confronted by James and John who wanted the privilege of sitting on His left and right side in glory.  Of course, this made the other disciples indignant but Jesus replied to them:  "But it shall not be so among you.  But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.  For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many" (Mark 10:43-45).
     May God grant us the ability to fully embrace the supporting roles He has chosen for us in this lifetime with enthusiasm.  When we do, we will be playing a crucial role in a  plan which God has designed.  We must remember that the ultimate goal of our lives and work is to bring glory to God and not to ourselves.  Selah!

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