Excerpted from an article by:  Rev. Walter Albritton

Published on the Web Site of Ino Baptist Church


DAILY BREAD, Saturday, January 22, 2005


Today’s Scripture:  Whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all.

(Mark 10:43b-44)


A story from the life of Albert Schweitzer offers us insight into the nature of genuine Christian service. Schweitzer, you recall, was a brilliant German with degrees in music and theology. He had a comfortable life as a college teacher. Then he heard the story of the rich man and Lazarus and was soundly converted.


He walked across the campus of the University of Strassbourg and enrolled in the School of Medicine. He received his medical degree in February of 1913. A month later he moved to Lamberene, in French Equatorial Africa, where he built a hospital to care for the poor natives who were suffering from leprosy, polio, and other diseases.


I will let Schweitzer tell in his own words why he gave up his comfortable life as a professor and began to serve others:

"I had read about the physical miseries of the natives in the virgin forests; I had heard about them from missionaries, and the more I thought about it, the stranger it seemed to me that we Europeans trouble ourselves so little about the humanitarian task which offers itself in far-off lands.           “The parable of (the rich man) and Lazarus seemed to me to have been directly spoken to us! We are (the rich man), for, through the advances of medical science, we now know a great deal about disease and pain, and have innumerable means of fighting them….Out there in the colonies, however, sits…Lazarus…who suffers from illness and pain just as much as we do, nay, much more, and has absolutely no means of fighting them. And just as (the rich man) sinned against the poor man at his gate because…he never put himself in his place and let his heart and conscience tell him what he ought to do, so do we sin against the poor man at our gate" (On the Edge of the Primeval Forest).


Asked by a visitor why he was serving the poor in Africa, Schweitzer replied, “Jesus sent me.” That was reason enough.


Schweitzer not only served the medical needs of the poor. He helped promising young Africans acquire an education. Some of them went on to obtain college degrees, some even medical degrees.


On one occasion Schweitzer was in the woods cutting down trees to use in building a larger medical clinic. He was struggling in vain to move a tree out of a ditch. Nearby several Africans stood watching. One young man, neatly dressed in his white suit, was urged to give Schweitzer a hand.


“No,” the young man replied, “I cannot; I am a doctor.” Evidently he did not want soil his “whites” because such manual labor was beneath him now. Yet it was Albert Schweitzer who had helped him work his way through medical school.


TODAY’S CHALLENGE:  Ponder that scene as you consider your own willingness to get your hands dirty in the service of our Lord.  Jesus came not to be served but to serve.  Must that not be our spirit as well?