Wednesday, December 2, 2009

At Your Service

John 13:12-17 (NIV)
12When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. "Do you understand what I have done for you?" he asked them. 13"You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. 15I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

Every Christian is called to serve God and according to Jesus' teaching and example that will many times include serving one another in some form or another. Problem is, few have a heart to serve in our current orientation of Church fellowship and discipleship. Popular thought has it that serving is relegated to Ushers, Deacons (after all, the Greek word for Deacon means "servant" right?), and those not mature, skilled, or anointed to teach, preach, sing, or play an instrument. How far from the model of Christ we have drifted! He himself elevated humble service of others as one of the greatest of ministries that honors God and impacts mankind.

Too often we jump at the chance to do the "stage work", but when it's time to the "leg work" we manufacture a myriad of reasons as to why we can't or won't serve, from supposed time limitations, insisting that we're already doing enough, or the often unspoken but clearly evident attitude that we're just above that kind of thing. Many people, especially those who are used to ministering during public worship, don't realize that service is one of the most effective methods of bonding with those they minister to. People may admire the gifts we display publicly, but what really draws us together is the feeling that we are part of the same team, and that doesn't come through preaching or singing at one another, but in working side by side even in the most mundane duties.

Secondly, we often fail to see how much the "leg work" prepares us for the "stage work". Those we lead around us are not only looking to be led by command, but by example. They want to see that we understand what doing the work we're asking them to do is like, and even more so, that we would not hesitate to join them in completing the work.

When's the last time you performed a simple yet act of service for your church or another individual? When you notice garbage in the church lawn, do you stop to pick it up or do you continue on your way knowing someone else will get it? When services are concluded do you socialize until it's time to pack up your family (or just yourself) and rush out the door, or do you volunteer yourself to help with any variety of things they may need to be done before the building is emptied? When you hear that a brother or sister is ill, do you casually inquire about them or do you take it upon yourself to ask if they need any help completing work around the house.

I love to preach. I love to teach. I love to play the organ. And it appears that people are blessed by my ministry in those areas. But some of the greatest moments of spiritual satisfaction have come from changing the sign outside, vacuuming the floor alone in the sanctuary, or driving folks home in the church van after service. (and that's after I've preached AND played the organ!) So let's recommit ourselves to selfless service. Not only is it a blessing to God and men, but it will be a blessing to us as well.

elder todd

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