Written by Stephen Cox
The world defines greatness in terms of power, possessions, prestige, and position. If you can demand service from others, you’ve arrived. In our me-first culture, acting like a servant is not a popular concept.
Jesus, however, measured greatness in terms of service, not status. He models this for us in John 13 when he fills a basin of water, kneels in front of his disciples, and starts scrubbing off the filth encrusted around their heels and toes. In this act, Jesus shows us the true character of Christian ministry—humility, compassion, and an initiative to volunteer for the least reputable acts of service. I’m always struck by the fact that this event occurs at the end of Jesus’s ministry, a time he might have felt most entitled to be served and to avoid the less glamorous aspects of ministry. But as we are reminded in the gospels:
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Mark 10:45
This one truth is remarkably freeing. It frees us from service done to earn or impress or compare and instead allows us to enjoy the ways in which Christ serves us. The truth that Jesus came to serve us means that Christ’s people graciously, willingly and joyfully give themselves in faithful service to further His Kingdom in these last days.
The truth is without serving you will sink as a Christian. To wash one another’s feet, to share the gospel, to care for the poor, to take responsibility for building up the body of Christ—that is the Christian life. If you don’t want a life shaped by service, there are other religions. This one is about serving.’ve enjoyed reading Rory Shiner’s thoughts on this topic. Here is some of what he had to say in a recent blog on The Gospel Coalition website:
1. As you seek to serve, a good attitude would be to put needs before gifts. That is, don’t think (at least in the first instance), “What am I good at?” Rather ask, “What are the needs?” Which is a variation on “who is my neighbour?” That is what Christ did. He didn’t think of his gifts, but of our needs. Jesus didn’t die on the cross because he was really good at it, but because we needed it.
Of course, your gifts are not irrelevant. God has made you you, and in some way or other your youness is God’s supply for our needs (1 Corinthians 12:12-26). God has attended to our needs by means of your gifts. As you serve, you will no doubt discover that you are good at serving in certain areas. It is the path of wisdom to foster and extend yourself in those areas of service in which you are gifted.
2. It seems to me that your local church should be a place you serve, but not the only sphere of your service. The building up of the body of Christ is a task to which we are all called as Christians (1 Corinthians 12). But of course our service extends beyond that. Indeed, in a very real sense the purpose of church (as in, the event of church, the church gathered) is to act (as my friend describes it) as Basecamp. It is where we go to spur one another on in our service. The older liturgies preserved something of this. The service does not begin with the words “come in here to love and serve the Lord” but ends with the minister saying: “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.”
3. You are not God. You will get tired. You will make mistakes. You cannot be in two places at once. You cannot read people’s minds. Embrace your creatureliness. You can’t do everything. Your job is to worship God, not to be God. There are three members of the Trinity; there are no job vacancies for a fourth position. Learn to be a creature. To be finite. Repeat after me: “I can’t do everything; I can’t please everyone.” And then go and pour your life out in the service of others with all the joy and self-forgetfulness of those who know themselves to be radically and profoundly loved.
As a staff team, Pete and I are always encouraged to see so many of our church family members serving one another with genuine love. God has truly blessed our church family with gifted people. We thank God for what you have done and keep doing. We are grateful to God for how he keeps using us to grow together in Christ for his glory. May God continue to help us make an impact for his kingdom here in Wagga and further afield.