We read recently of a church that transitioned from primarily serving themselves to serving others as the result of a natural disaster. I thought, “Hooray! That’s one!” Regrettably, this kind of change is outstanding because of its rarity. Why is understanding and practicing the principle of serving so difficult for those who are followers of the One who said He came to serve and not to be served?
It’s ironic that we have come to call our times of assembly “services.” Really? Who are we serving?
- Are we serving God? Exactly how are we doing that passively sitting in a building?
- Are we serving our brothers and sisters? How? By sleepily listening to a preacher or singing to the back of their heads?
- Are we serving our community? Is that remotely possible segregated from the community with our butts planted in a pew/chair in one of our edifices?
- Are we serving our world? How? It is a stretch to gather into the rarified atmosphere of some auditorium going through motions of minimal meaning and claim we are “serving.”
Our times of assembly can be times of service if we turn them into times of edification and encouragement. If our preaching, singing, partaking of the wine and bread bring us closer to each other and our Lord then mission accomplished. If, however, we continue to lethargically linger to lifelessly go through the routine “exercises of this service” (“exercises” is an interesting way to put it), then, at the end of the closing prayer rush to our cars, who will be served?
True service will be accomplished in the world…not out of it (those who isolate themselves in monastic solitude need to understand this). Our service must be taken out of our comfortable retreats and into our uncomfortable world. Let’s lift up our eyes. We are surrounded by suffering and need. If Christians responded to these realities, there would be little need for a “Nanny State.”
There is no power greater than the words and works of the Holy Spirit as we blend the gospel with service. One without the other is like faith without works: dead and useless. Put them together and people will be saved physically, emotionally and, most importantly, spiritually and eternally.
To pin our hopes for national and international salvation on electing the right president, senator or congressperson is misguided and a striving after wind (and, we are getting a lot of “wind” at the moment). Taking the same energy expended to get our favorite candidate into office and turning it to serve our world and save its lost would truly answer the prayer, “Thy kingdom come.”