Discovering Spiritual Truths & Celebrating God's Grace in the Every Day Happenings of Life.
Last Wednesday night, part of our “I Am a Church Member” conversation focused on the potentially divisive nature of personal preferences or desires. Do you remember the last time your children or grandchildren were caught in a tussle, fighting over who would get their way? We have all seen toddlers throwing temper tantrums when they don’t get what they want, kicking and screaming on the floor. Fortunately, that doesn’t happen within the church; although sometimes it may come close. 😉 Sadly, over the years, many churches have split in two over arguments such as the color of carpet to use in the narthex or the placement of the baptismal font inside the sanctuary.
To be sure, there is nothing wrong with preferring one style of worship over another. There is nothing sinful about having a personal fondness for one hymn over another. But as members of a church (local church and God's greater church), our motivation should never be about getting our way. In this community, we shed the selfish desires of the “me first” monster that lives within us. Instead, we look for ways to be a servant to others. The Apostle Paul sets before us the example of this attitude displayed profoundly by Jesus, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4) Become a servant for the sake of, for the good of the whole. Put others first. Jesus empties Himself, to the point of death, to serve you and me. Such humble sacrifice is not easy; the cross is clear evidence of this unavoidable truth. But such is the call and expectations that God has for His followers. Did you know the word servant occurs 57 times in the New Testament? Did you know the verb serve occurs 58 times in the New Testament? What are we to learn from this? Quite simply, serving is important! And if we are too busy making sure our needs are met and our own desires satisfied, then this often comes at the expense of those around us. If we are so turned inward, it is impossible to see the needs of those around us and serve them.
In the last days of August, we often try to squeeze in one more trip to the beach or one last venture to the mountains. As we savor the final stretch of this summer, think about ways you and your family can give and serve. How can you put others first? Reach out to a lonely neighbor. Volunteer at a local food pantry. Offer to babysit free of charge. Invite some friends going through a tough time over for dinner. Inside the walls of our church should be people that are actively on the lookout for ways to serve—doing as Jesus did. Let us all look for ways to bring a smile to the faces of those around us and be a blessing to others.
“Whenever you serve others in any way, you are actually serving God.” (Rick Warren)
“God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.” (1 Peter 4:10 NLT)
Pastor Steve Vera