It is impossible to know Jesus well without being a servant. We can know of Jesus and be acquainted with Him and His works. We can love Him and appreciate His work for us. But really understanding and sharing in the heart of Jesus begins when we stop looking after our needs first and look after others. Selfless sacrifice defined the whole mission of Jesus during His time on earth. How can we ever expect to be like Him and see things like He does unless we join Him in that mission?
Selfish Christianity is a contradiction of terms as a result.
A finely dressed proper church lady was visiting one of the sick members of her church one day. The suffering woman was miserable in her bed. She was covered by dirty blankets in a dark bedroom. Her children were wearing soiled clothing and running amok in the house while their father was at work. There were used dishes piled in the sink and laundry that obviously needed to be done scattered about the living room. It was a situation that obviously needed tending. The proper church lady sat at the sick woman’s bedside for \what she felt was more than the appropriate time saying all the right things. As she was leaving, habit and sense of Christian duty led her to ask, “Well dear, if there is anything that I can do to help, please let me know?” over the yelling of the children. She walked out without waiting for a reply feeling proud of herself. “I’ve done my Christian duty”, che thought proudly.
Did she do her Christian duty? How could she possibly think that? It is so obvious that the sick woman needed help. How could she leave when a sister in the Lord was struggling? The simple answer was the woman was focused on herself alone. She did something to satisfy a desire in her and put a Christian spin on it.
Selfishness and self-focus is death to true Christian service.
While this is an obvious example, our overt concern with ourselves can cause us to just as completely miss similar opportunities. God puts someone in front of us to allow us to be like Jesus. Yet, we are so focused on what life should be like for us that we cannot see it. God wants to bless us by allowing us to serve like His Son and we miss it because we are hungry or tired or want to eat ice cream. Those desires are stronger than our love for the hurting person.
It is a challenging idea every time.
Yet, when we look at our example of all things, Jesus, what do we see? We never see our Savior focusing on what He needs. Jesus does not even have a house He is so focused on others.
Jesus is always serving. He focuses on the needs of others and then answered them sacrificially.
When He is tired and wants to take a break, we see Him minister to those in His path out of sheer love and compassion for them. When He is worn out and thirsty from travel, the need of the Woman at the Well leads to a moment of great healing. When He is just trying to catch a little sleep while the fishermen disciples get them across the Sea, the fear and doubt of his followers led Him to calm the wind and the waves. He sacrificed His hunger, thirst, fatigue and eventually His whole Body for His people. It is who He is.
We often talk about wanting to know more about Jesus and seeking to be more like Jesus. Do we understand this is what Jesus was like? He was defined by His service to others. His greatest act during His time with us was to give His very Body away for His enemies. Even His title of Savior involves His service.
Do we want to be more like this Jesus? Really?
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
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. They do the things for you that you don’t want to do. That is what Jesus made Himself into for us, a servant and a slave. God served us solely for our benefit.
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.
He proactively serves. It is in his job description.
A servant that is expecting to be served is a terrible servant.
A follower of Jesus cannot truly know Him and be like Him unless they act like Him. 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?
Would a servant tell his master he was more comfortable being fed 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.
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. He then specifically says to us, “Go and do the same.” Do we trust that His directions for us will result in our growth and contentment?
If we want to know our Savior, we must serve like Him. If we serve like Jesus, we will grow to be like Jesus. Do we trust in this plan for us?