A finely dressed proper church lady was visiting one of the sick members of her church one day. The sick lady was miserable and curled up in her bed covered by dirty blankets in a dirty bedroom. Her children were wearing soiled clothing and running amok in the house. There were used dishes piled in the sink and laundry that obviously needed to be done scattered about the living room. The proper church lady sat at the sick woman’s bedside for the appropriate time checking in on her and passing the time. As she was leaving she did her duty and asked, “Well dear, if there is anything that I can do to help, please let me know?” over the yelling of the children without waiting for a reply. She walked out thinking that she had done a great thing.
How could she do that you say? While this is an extreme example, we Christians can miss opportunities to serve every day. It often occurs when we are blinded by our cultural expectations of what a Christian life should look like rather than simply asking Jesus what we should do. We are so focused on what life should be like for us that we cannot see that Jesus wants to bless us by using us for others.
“We need lots of programs, We need fellowship, we need to be ministered to”” is the consistent refrain among Christians. Particularly when we first come to Jesus, our relationship with the Lord is focused on what He is doing for ME. Some heretical theologies have run with this and make the glorification of the follower of Christ the ultimate point of Christianity. Yet when we look at the Bible, we never see our Savior focusing on what He needs. Jesus is never focused on obtaining a bigger house, a nicer car or better worship music to sing to. He is not church shopping for more programs that feed his need for activity.
Jesus is always serving. He focuses on the needs of others and then answered them sacrificially. He sacrificed everything He had for His people…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.
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 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
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.
Now, do we think that God’s example is important? Paul exhorts the Corinthian church to imitate him as he was imitating Christ. This our goal as well. Jesus is the express representation, the exact picture of God revealed to us. It is pretty obvious that we should strive to be like the One who reveals how God looks, right?
A slave does not spend the day wondering 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 proactively 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?
We need to be fed, We can’t do that!
We are not called to that ministry, We can’t do that!
We work all week, We can’t do that!
We don’t feel like I am equipped to do that, We 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 the saving love of Jesus is that it pulls us out of the selfish, self-centered world. It drafts us into a life that is meant to be the exact opposite. Jesus drafts 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 chosen 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 ALWAYS 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 really grow as Christians. We develop in a way that we had not anticipated. Put simply, 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. Do we trust that His directions for us will result in our growth and contentment?