Study Guide: Opting Out Of The “Who’s The Greatest” Game

Sunday February 14, 2010 | Greg Boyd

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

Jesus came both to save us and to reveal the character of God to us. Rather than coming in great power God came and served. Jesus calls us to “opt out” of the worldly desire to be better than others and learn to love them even when we profoundly disagree with them.

Extended Summary:

Greg started by explaining that heaven will be when God’s kingdom is manifest here on earth. So, how we live as Christians now is supposed to be in anticipation of that new reality coming with the second return of Christ. One of the main ways God’s coming kingdom differs from this world is in what “greatness” means and what it looks like.

In Luke 22:23-30 the disciples were discussing who among them would be the one to betray Jesus. This went from each person denying that it would be them to the other end of the spectrum, who among them was the “greatest”? It’s typical for us to move away from blame and toward credit in the same movement, isn’t it? In fact, Jesus knew that each one of them would betray him in the coming hours, so it must have been especially painful for him to hear this. Instead of rebuking them—which they soundly deserved—he reminded them that they are not to be like those who are considered “great” in this age. Instead, he pointed out that they had already stood with Jesus through many trials and that greatness is expressed in serving rather than being served.

Greg reminded us that the disciples behavior was no different that Christian behavior in general through out history. Many wars have been fought between nation that understood themselves to be Christian. In fact, our own American history is no different. It is critical to the health of our faith that we not become confused about this: Christianity is not to be mixed with any other ideology, political agenda, or any other human construction. To be a follower of Jesus is radically different than any other human idea and when we blend Christian faith with other things, we undermine its power.

Jesus called us to quit the “Who’s the Greatest Game”. We are not greater than any other human being. We are all sinners in need of God’s grace. When we forget this, we begin to fall into the trap of elevating ourselves over others and judging them as less than us in some way.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What stood out to you most from this message and the supporting text?
  2. When you think of heaven, what comes to mind for you? Do you picture it here on earth? Why or why not?
  3. Consider Jesus’ words again in today’s text. What is he really saying about “greatness”? How has Jesus modeled “greatness” for us? What are some other examples of true greatness that we see in Jesus’ life?
  4. Greg challenged us to be cautious about aligning ourselves too strongly with nationalism, political parties/agendas/denominations and other human constructions. Some of these organizations do some good, what is the concern Greg has about getting too caught up with them? How does it connect with the warning about “greatness”?
  5. Surprisingly, Jesus didn’t rebuke the disciples in the episode we’ve looked at today. Instead he confers on them the kingdom! What does this mean? Consider the words of the Lord’s prayer as you discuss this question.