The Light of Reason
Founded by James Allen, 1902
Editor Mrs. James Allen
Vol. XX. August 1918 No. 8
I sometimes think that we have greatly erred in our conceptions of the character of God. We have placed Him too far away from us. A King to be worshipped—and so He is! A Ruler to be held in fear and awe—and so He is! The Creator and Giver of life to be reverenced—and so He is! The Father to be loved and obeyed—and so He is!—but He is more than all these—infinitely more, and we are so much the poorer because we have not realized it. He is the Perpetual Servant—ever serving.
We fail to comprehend the Divine Character of God when we fail to see Him the Servant of all. Jesus, our Lord, revealed Him as a Father, and a Lover; as Judge and King; but He also revealed Him as a server—a servant, and that, both by parable and example. See him, —the Representative of God Almighty on Earth,—see him bending low to wash the feet of his disciples. The humblest is not beneath him. Oh, how it rebukes our smallness—our petty exclusiveness. Our pride and arrogance. If I, then, you Lord and Master have so served—If I, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords have stooped so low as to serve you in the very lowliest way—ought ye not,—he says in effect—even so serve one another? Can any service for the earth brother be too humble, too lowly? See the example I have set ye. And he, by that lowly act, has given to the world the amazing vision of God as the Perpetual Servant.
He calls his followers the Vine and his Father the husbandman—in other words the gardener, or server. Again He is the Good Shepherd—the server or keeper of the sheep. And did not David give us a beautiful picture of the Perpetual Servant in the 23rd Psalm. Do we all know it so well that I need not repeat it here? Could we ever tire of it?
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures,
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul,
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name sake,
Yea, though I walk through the valley and the shadow of death
I will fear no evil,
For Thou art with me—
Thy rod and staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies
Thou annointest my head with oil,
My cup runeth over!
Surely goodness and mercy
Have followed me all the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever!
Could anything express more beautifully and clearly the character of God as the Perpetual Servant?
Look anywhere in the words and parables of our Lord, and it is always the same, God the server—the Divine Servant?
How familiar we are with the words of the Apostle that "he emptied himself, taking upon him the form of a servant." Yet how little have we comprehended the true meaning. How we have over-shadowed His service by talking so much about our own. How much we have heard about serving God, and what have we understood by it? Public worship has been exalted often as the highest service we can render to God. If the Deity could be wearied I think we must weary Him often by our constant lip-service; and if our perpetual praying and singing, our often empty ritual and soulless ceremonies ever reach the Divine Ear, surely He may say again to us as He did once before,—
I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts,
I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of goats.
When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hands,
To tread my courts?
Bring no more vain oblations;
Incense is an abomination unto me:
The new moons and Sabbaths,
The calling of assemblies,
I cannot away with it;
It is iniquity—even the solemn meeting!
Your new moon and your appointed feasts my soul hateth;
They are a trouble to me;
I am weary to bear them!
And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you:
Yea, when ye make many prayers,
I will not hear:
Your hands are full of blood!
Wash you, make you clean.
Put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes.
Cease to do evil;
Learn to do well.
Relieve the oppressed.
Judge the Fatherless.
Plead for the widow.
Let us worship in the congregation of the people by all means, if we are there by rendered more devout and earnest. Let our voices ring out in the anthems of praise in the midst of the people, as well they may. O that men would praise the Lord for His goodness and His wonderful works unto the children of men! Let us bend low in adoration and awe before the Blessed Bread broken for us,—but all this does not constitute service. We dare not put all this in the place of service. If we have been calling it service to God, then we have been making a sad mistake. Does God serve Himself? Nay, for He is the servant of all men—the Perpetual Servant—and l can only serve when l serve as He serves—when I serve my fellow man.
Lord, when saw we thee a hungered, or sick, or in prison?
When ye did it unto the least of these, ye did it unto me. He that is greatest among you, let him be the servant of all.
Truly, the only service I can render to God is to serve my brother.
Did not John see in his time how men were falling into the error of supposing that they could serve God in some religious way apart from serving one another? Wherefore did he say: If a man loves not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? If a man says he love God and hateth his brother, he is a liar. To the Beloved John the only test of true religion, real service was: We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.
How vain we have been! How dark! How ignorant! We thought, also, that we might be heard for our much speaking. We imagined that God needed our service! We have been under the delusion that the glory of the Highest would suffer loss without our puny efforts at praising Him. Is the majesty of God depending upon our voices? Will His reputation suffer because we may hold our peace? Ah, me!
But there are sick ones to visit, and there are weary and tired ones to rest, there are discouraged ones to hearten, there are fallen ones to pity and save, there are weeping ones, and we may dry their tears. Are we doing it? Are we of God depending upon our voices? Will His reputation suffer because we may hold our peace? Ah, me!
But there are sick ones to visit, and there are weary and tired ones to rest, there are discouraged ones to hearten, there are fallen ones to pity and save, there are weeping ones, and we may dry their tears. Are we doing it? Are we healing the broken-hearted? Are we comforting the widow and the desolate? In these things only can we find any service to Him who is the Perpetual Servant.
Oh, let us pray the prayer of Abu Ben Adham,—write me as one who loves his fellow men.