Selfish Christianity?

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

Philippians 2

A finely dressed proper church lady was visiting one of the sick members of her church one day.  The sick lady was miserable, curled up in her bed covered by dirty blankets in a dirty bedroom with two children wearing soiled clothing running amok in the house.  There were used dishes piled in the sink and and laundry that obviously needed to be done piled about the living room.  The proper church lady sat at the sick woman’s bedside for the appropriate time checking in on her and then said as she was getting ready to leave, “Well dear, if there is anything that I can do to help, please let me know?” over the yelling of the children of course.  She then walked out thinking that she had done a great thing.

Yikes, how could she do that you say.  While this is an extreme example, we as Christians are staring at hundreds of examples of opportunities to serve every day that we are blinded to by our expectations of what being Christian looks like in this world.  I need programs, I need fellowship, I need to be ministered to is the consistent complaint among Christians and yet when we look at the Bible, we never see our Savior focusing on what He needs.  He focused on the needs of others and then answered them sacrificially.  He served everyone…it is just who He is.

We often talking about wanting to more about Jesus and seeking to be more like Jesus.  Do we understand that the Jesus  was defined by His service to others? Even His title of Savior involves His service.

During His time of bodily living among us, Jesus’ entire reason for being was to be a servant.  Look at the Philippians verses again:

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

The King of Kings made Himself of no reputation and took on the form of a bondservant – that is a good thing, right?  We hear it a lot in church and it is associated with Jesus so it has to be good.  Do we know what a bondservant really is?

The word refers to a slave or a lowly servant.  Someone whose whole purpose is to serve the needs of others.  Need food, call the servant.  Need your stinky shoes washed, call the servant.  Need a really yucky job done, don’t do it yourself, call the servant.  That is what servants are for – to do things for you that you don’t want to do.

That is what Jesus made Himself into for us – a servant, a slave – God became that for us.  Do we think that God’s example is important?

A slave does not spend the day wondering about what he should be doing and what entertainment he should pursue that day.  He finds out the wishes of the master and does them.

A servant doesn’t sit in the middle of the banquet and wait for others to serve her, she is the one working hard to get the food on the table and to provide the master pleasing service.

A slave does not sit back and let others work because he doesn’t feel called to that area of service, he serves, it is in his job description.

A servant that is expecting to be served is a terrible servant – they are acting like they are the master not the servant.

A follower of Jesus cannot truly know Him and be like Him unless they act like Him and serve.  Jesus makes this point repeatedly in the Gospels.  The greatest among us is the servant, the slave of them all.  He did not come to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many.

Yet, in a world where Christians are desperate for others to help them with life needs, physical or spiritual, are we there ready to meet the needs or at least give our lives trying?

When the next generations of the church are being lost for lack of discipleship, are we there trying to fill the voids or at least give our lives trying?

Where people are not getting the Gospel proclaimed to them are we there putting aside our social anxiety and worry to lay Jesus before them?

When churches are desperate for people to serve each other through the many jobs that come up to keep a church running, are the ones that Jesus specifically told to be servants serving?

I need to be fed, I can’t do that!

I am not called to that ministry, I can’t do that!

I work all week, I can’t do that!

I don’t feel like I am equipped to do that, I can’t do that!

Would a slave ever tell his master any of these objections?  Would a servant tell his master he was more comfortable being fed to get ready to serve than to serve?

The truth about saving love of Jesus is that it pulls us out of the selfish, self centered world and drafts us into a world that is meant to be the exact opposite, an others centered world.  Draft us, like a soldier chosen to fight for his country. We are rescued from a lifetime of loving and serving ourselves and sin and are saved into a lifetime of serving God by serving others.  When we understand this we understand the heart of Jesus – no one took His life from Him, He laid it down for them.  His crucifixion was an act of service.

What about growth though?  If we are serving others, how do we grow?

When we accept that following Jesus means serving and focus on others as our calling, the most remarkable thing happens.  We begin to grow as Christians.  We develop in a way that we had not anticipated.  We start looking more and more like Jesus.  We grow in our faith and love because God gives us more faith and love – our master gives us what we need to carry out our job for Him.

The greatest growth and maturity as a Christian comes not from studying theology but from laying out lives down for others.  It is how the Lord did it after all.

Christianity is never a selfish religion because we have a Savior who gave up everything for us and then says go and do the same.

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