Discovering Spiritual Truths & Celebrating God's Grace in the Every Day Happenings of Life.
The Israeli settlement of Netzarim in the heart of the Gaza Strip was a point of much conflict with militant Palestinians for several years. The conflict was so great that the settlement was evacuated in 2005. Those who lived in Netzarim did so at great personal risk because they felt it was an important part of keeping their land free. A schoolteacher, Shlomit Ziv, who lived in Netzarim in 2001 said, “I don’t live where it’s comfortable; I live where it’s important to live.”
These are powerful words. Consider the application to our lives as Christians when it comes to serving others and giving a bold witness to the Jesus we follow. What would happen if Christians quit worrying about being comfortable and started doing what was important to God? What would happen if we started to see our homes and neighborhoods as important places to live for the sake of our Lord’s mission—leading lost souls to Him? Thanks be to God we don’t live in a country where we must regularly worry about militant takedowns and fleeing our homes. That being said, the people around us, and our own lives as well, are constantly under assault by many worldly distractions and expectations.
It is an unfortunate truth that people are often self-centered and form habits that serve themselves, sometimes even at the cost of others. This is due to our sinful nature that convinces us that serving ourselves is what is best and will make us happiest. However, as Christians, we are called to live differently, not like the rest of the world. This past Sunday, we heard these red-letter words of Jesus, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) Instead of looking to serve ourselves, we should look to serve Jesus Christ foremost. And how do we do that? By serving others with no strings attached, by shining the gospel light of Jesus into the hurting hearts and broken lives of those around us. Jesus is the perfect example of service towards others. He came to the world and rather than be served by others, He himself served others with kindness and humility. From healing those who were sick or possessed and washing the disciple’s feet to dying a gruesome death on the cross, Jesus shows us what real love and the heart of a servant truly looks like.
There’s a good book Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster. He makes an important distinction between true service—as shown by Jesus—and ‘self-service’. He writes: “Self-service is about choosing who and when we will serve. (Often with much consideration to how it might be repaid or how it could benefit us later down the road.) It’s about serving to make ourselves feel better. But true service means putting yourself out, not for personal glory. In God’s eyes all people are worth serving. It means acting wherever and whenever it is needed.” Seeing a need and getting to work; putting faith into action. The Bible uses these kinds of phrases 58 times: “Love one another.” “Care for one another.” “Pray for one another.” “Encourage one another.” “Help one another.” “Counsel one another.” “Support one another.” And on and on the list goes. It is the mutual ministry of every believer in the family of God to every other believer in the family of God. That’s the way God meant for it to be. We are to be difference-makers. The late American evangelist, D. L. Moody wrote the following words next to Isaiah 6:8 in his Bible: “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. What I can do, I ought to do, and what I ought to do, by the grace of God I will do.” This was a reflection of Isaiah’s call into ministry--“Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.” May our church be filled with eager, faithful, and willing servants… here we are Lord, send us! Use us!
“Jesus is calling us to put ourselves last and not first. We serve because we want to be more like Jesus.” RLC
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” (M. Gandhi)
Pastor Steve Vera