This past weekend at GCC I finished the series on Community and talked about “Community Service.” Click here for the audio/video. A true God-community is all about service; specifically serving others, not indulging self as in, “What’s in it for me?” Sadly, too many church-goers, as well as church leaders take the position that “church” is for me and about me. Sure there is a definite aspect of being a part of a local church that benefits self, but those benefits are best realized and appreciated through self-less service to others. The following is some thoughts/ideas from this teaching.
At the occasion of what we call the Last Supper (see Luke 22:24-27), Jesus stated that one of his disciples would soon deny him. Interestingly, in response to this, the disciples begin to argue as to who is the greatest- code for “I’m more spiritual than you are because…” What makes this scene especially intriguing is that:
- They are most likely partaking of a Jewish Seder meal, ritually celebrated to commemorate the Passover, and Jesus may have indeed sat in the place of honor that was traditionally left vacant and set aside for “Elijah or the Messiah to come.” As Jesus took this seat, everyone in the room emphatically understood that he was proclaiming himself as the Messiah who had now come!
- Jesus interrupts their debate with the words of Luke 22:24-27 in which he states that although he has the seat of “greatest honor”, he is “among them as one who serves.”
- Jesus challenges them, and us, to think of greatness in far different terms and application than what the culture prescribes. He calls us to “servant-leadership” and his greatest act of service was when he died on the cross for each and everyone of us!
Perhaps sacrificing our lives is not exactly what Jesus implies when he calls us to be among others as “one who serves.” But certainly, he is emphasizing what Paul later articulates in Phil. 2:3-7 (please take the time to read this passage). Basically, like himself, Jesus expects us to be humble and not look to our own interests but to the interests of others! If we’re honest, humility is not something that is easy to come by for any of us. It’s not that we are all pompous braggarts, but that we all struggle with “looking out for #1” versus “looking out for the interests of others” before and beyond our own. Jesus and Paul both relate that humility is ultimately realized through sacrificing self (not a literal death as in Jesus’ case, but in the sense of selfish gain, etc.) and by submission to God’s will.
Further, the “interests of others” has little, if anything to do with a person’s preferences, such as an affinity for coffee or shopping or fishing or history. Neither does it speak to simply meeting someone’s need. Rather, and more profoundly it has to do with making an investment in someone’s life that will better enable them to be productive; “bear fruit” in terms of God’s purpose for their life. Essentially we are called to set others up for success! Isn’t that exactly what Jesus did for you and for me? His ultimate act of service has given us every opportunity to “succeed!”
So, community service is far more than mission’s programs and projects and addressing and meeting needs, as important as these are. More powerfully, community service is humbly investing yourself and your resources in the lives of others, setting them up for success, and providing them with the means to live productively for God!