So, what is this whole service and serve others thing anyways? I mean we do hear of it from time to time in our culture. If you have worked at any fast food joint you would have been ‘fed’ many lines about the importance of customer service. Actually any business with customers will stress this. Why do they stress it so much? That’s an easy one. They stress it because people love being served. In fact if we are not served in a way that is pleasing to us some manager is going to get an ear full about it. Service then is the act of serving someone or in other words doing something for someone. The message of our culture is “be the one being served not the server.”
AND IN THE CHURCH?
So if that’s service in our society and the me is what service looks like in society what does it look like in the church. Well, lets look at that from past to present.
Service was at the root of the early church. In Acts 6:1-7 in the bible we see the Apostles appointing men to take care of the needs of widows. Later, we hear of the Roman emperor Julian the Apostate saying this of Christians, “These godless Galileans feed not only their own poor but ours.” He calls them godless because they do not worship the emperor as God. It’s ironic don’t you think that the ones who were called godless are the very ones showing the love of the one and only true God through their acts of love.
Later in the 1200’s we see Francis of Assisi give up his life of wealth to serve the poor, especially lepers.
Then in the late 1800’s we see William Booth start The Salvation Army by serving the poor of East London. William describes their work in East London in the following way, “The three ‘S’s’ best expressed the way in which the Army administered to the ‘down and outs’: first, soup; second, soap; and finally, salvation.” Today we see The Salvation Army still serving the poor. But where did this attitude of serving others come from? Did Jesus have something to say about it? Did Jesus Model it?
THE SERVANT KING
Jesus definitely revolutionized the idea of service. You see in Jesus’ time people had slaves or servants as they were often called. It was the servants job to do all the things there master thought he was too important to do. Things like making meals, cleaning the house or worst of all washing people’s feet. That was considered a disgusting job because back then people wore sandals and the main means of transportation was walking (on dry dusty, sometimes filled with animal dropping roads). So Jesus turns his follower’s way of thinking upside down by assuming the duties of a servant and washing his disciple’s feet. I mean here we have the Son of God, King of all, washing feet. In fact the idea is so revolting that one of the disciples named Peter tried to stop Jesus from washing his feet. Jesus insists and tells Peter he can have no part of him unless he allows Jesus to wash his feet. Then he goes on to tell them that they are to serve one another in the same way he served them (check out John 13:1-17).
Jesus said “…if I, the Master and Teacher, washed your feet, you must now wash each other’s feet. I’ve laid down a pattern for you. What I’ve done, you do….”
Then Jesus teaches in the bible (check out Matthew 25:31-46) that those who know him will serve him by feeding the hungry, giving a drink to the thirsty, inviting in strangers, giving clothes to those who need them, looking after the sick, and visiting those in prison. In fact he says that when we serve others in this way it is like doing these things to Jesus himself!
So it seems evident to me Jesus was big on serving so it would make sense that his followers do the same.
SO, WHAT ABOUT US?
Well if we want to show others our love for them, and we want to show God our love for him then service has to become part of our DNA. It is also one of the best ways to show others God’s love. So, how do we make service a part of our lives when it goes against our cultural desire to be served? Well, like a lot of things it is something that comes with practice.
You may need to start with something small like doing the dishes for your mom, or helping your younger brother or sister with their homework. Your opportunity to serve is only limited by your imagination. You can serve in all different kinds of ways from serving a hot meal, to helping human trafficking victims. Eventually as you continue serving others you will probably find you enjoy it and that you get as much or more from serving others as they do from being served.
Don’t think any opportunity to serve is too small to be significant. When I was in Kenya, Africa in September one of the things that meant the most to the former street boys I was working with is how I got into the vehicle and helped load the heavy sacks of food members from our church had helped to purchase. I did it without thinking and didn’t think it was significant but to one of those boys it showed I really loved and cared for him. Don’t think any opportunity is too big to accomplish. As stated on Evan Almighty, “We change the world with one random act of kindness at a time.”
Ark Almighty – Serving your community
Simply Serve – Fulton speaking about ‘Service’
Touch: Pressing Against the Wounds of a Broken World – by Rudy Rasmus
:: by Ryan Beer of Campbell River, BC
Ryan has a wife and 2 kids and as youth pastor is passionate about people understanding that God loves them and has a purpose for their life.