The Gospel and Service
My current church emphasizes service as a primary way of being Christian. I'd like to try to apply my understanding of the Gospel to service.
1) We're commanded to serve each other as Christ served us. (John 13:14).
2) The bad news: we can't obey this command. Most of us probably fail multiple times every day to lay down our lives for our brothers; the cruciform life of perfect submission to others as far beyond us as infinity is beyond finitude.
In part, we simply lack the capacity to serve like Christ. We don't even have the wisdom to know how to serve perfectly. But even within our capacity, we generally choose not to serve. Why? One reason is because we think that if we pour ourselves out for others, we won't have enough left over for ourselves. If we take someone into our house, won't they take too much of our time and resources? If we give of ourselves into the oceanic need of the world, what will we have left? We fear really serving others because we believe we have to take care of ourselves.
In other instances, we're simply selfish. We don't want to serve someone else because it's unpleasant. We want to serve ourselves.
Other times we don't think people deserve our help.
3) The good new: in Christ, we have been utterly taken care of. "TheLord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want…" In Christ, our fears of not having enough are groundless as we find that we have been, are being, and will be taken care of by Him who does not sleep, slumber, or fail. In Christ, even if we give away all our treasure on earth, we have faith that we have stored up treasure for ourselves where itreally matters, in heaven with Him. In Christ, we are rich beyond measure, and therefore no service can impoverish us.
And the way Christ accomplished all of this was by giving over his whole life, to the point of being killed on a cross, for us. And then he took up his own life again and was exalted into heaven.
No deserved this kind of service; nevertheless we received it. How can this not change our hearts toward serving others?
4) Because Christ has served (saved) us in this way, we can serve others. We don't need to fear not having enough time or resources: Christ has promised to take care of that. And even our selfishnessis changed. If we're truly interested in our own well-being, we'll serve others and store up treasure in heaven. Our hearts are warmed in love by Christ's service of us, and we want to serve others. And further, in Christ, we have His nature, and , as we mature in Him beyond our fleshly selfishness, we find that it is our nature to want to serve others as did our Lord.
The crux of serving others is to have faith in the one God sent, Emmanuel. (John 6:29).