In the final chapter of his book, Finding God in the Questions, Dr. Timothy Johnson (physician and journalist for GMA on ABC News) quoted from Matthew 25:31-45 where Jesus told how people would be separated on the day of judgment. Dr. Johnson says, "Jesus' checklist is truly startling when you look at what is left out, in contrast to the dominant emphases of so much modern religious teaching." (pg. 185) Things such as "no mention of correct thinking" (e.g. learning the creeds and fundamentals of Christianity in the "right" way), "no mention of correct positions on social or political issues" (e.g. abortion, homosexuality, the proper place of women), "no mention of power or fame or wealth" (e.g. net worth, educational achievements), "no mention of time spent in traditional religious practices." However Jesus said the things that would keep us "from being a goat on judgment day is crystal clear - namely, attention to the 'least important ones.' Obviously these people were very important to Jesus, but he knew - as we all do if we are honest - that they are usually not very important to us." Jesus' whole life was about ministering to the needy, meeting needs, reaching out to the hurting, righting wrongs. So "we must be willing to live our lives in service to others." (pg. 185-187).
Dr. Johnson told about a career journalist who had interviewed many many "stars" over the years -- NFL players, movie actors, best-selling authors, politicians and so forth. This person said although we fawn over them and want to know every detail of their lives, he found most of these "'idols are as miserable a group of people as I have ever met. Most have troubled or broken marriages. Nearly all are incurably dependent on psychotherapy. In a heavy irony, these larger-than-life heroes seem tormented by self-doubt.'" By contrast he also spent time with people who had worked with the "ultimate outcasts" like the lepers in India and the homeless in America. People who'd left high-paying jobs to serve in Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia and other such places. He writes, "'I was prepared to honor and admire these servants, to hold them up as inspiring examples. I was not prepared to envy them. Yet as I now reflect on the two groups side by side, stars and servants, the servants clearly emerge as the favored ones, the graced ones. Without question, I would rather spend time among the servants than among the stars: they possess qualities of depth and richness and even joy that I have not found elsewhere.'" (pg. 191)
I loved this! It seems Jesus' example for us to follow -- loving and serving others -- is the very thing that will bring the most richness and joy to our lives.
And Jesus also taught that the greatest among you is the one who serves others.