A Theology of Serving

With every passing year, people find more ways than ever to fill their time.  Between work and family and all the extra-curricular actives that go along with that, there is very little time for anything (or anyone) else. For many Christians, just getting to church on Sundays is a major success. “Surely, God understands my schedule.  After all, I can only do so much. So, why should I serve?” That’s the question we have started the year asking at The Gathering. It’s an important question and one that must be asked if we, as the Church and as individual disciples, must ask (even for those who are already involved in life up to their noses).  This is perhaps most important for the “busy” since a failure to prioritize can often lead to a greater sense of busy-ness and decreasing levels of peace and joy!

Recently, I preached on “A Theology of Serving,” attempting to answer that all-important question of, “Why should I serve?”. I have presented four major reasons as to why we should serve, both within your church and in your community. These reasons form the basis of a theology of serving.

  • I serve because it fulfills my purpose.

Many people ask this question: What is my purpose. The answer is simple, but it might not be what you think. Many define their purpose with their job, be it a doctor, a builder, a homemaker, or an accountant. That misses out on purpose. There is a difference in calling and purpose. Calling is what you do (hopefully, based on your determination of what God has called you to do), purpose is what you ultimate accomplish by what you do. For a children of God, there may be hundreds or thousands of different callings, but all have only one purpose! That purpose is nothing more and nothing less than to glorify God! (Romans 11:36, Ephesians 2:10, Matthew 5:16, 1 Peter 2:12). So, in whatever I do, I am to glorify God in the way I serve.

  • I serve because it defines my identity in the Kingdom of God.

I serve because I am a child of the King and to be a child of the King is to serve the King and to serve the King, I serve others. Jesus, Himself set the example by coming not to be served, but to serve (Matthew 20:28). As disciples of Jesus, our identity is found in Him. We serve because we are to be like our Master (Philippians 2:5-7). If you refuse to serve, you are refusing to follow Jesus.

  • I serve to fulfill my role within the Body of Christ (the Church).

Every person who has been adopted into the Family of God (Romans 8:14-17) has been given both ability and responsibility to fulfill a calling within the local church. If God has called you here, to this specific church family, it is for a reason. You matter! If you are not serving in some capacity, then you are not accomplishing your calling and, consequently, are not experiencing the level of joy Christ has for you, and we are lacking in something that God has for His church that you are to provide (1 Corinthians 12:12-26).

  • I serve because to do so stands against the spirit of darkness and declares the existence and work of God.

We are the “Imago Dei”; the Image-bearers of God (Genesis 1:26). Since the fall of man in Genesis 3, we have preferred “self-serve”.  Sin has made us into self-centered creatures, living to feed our wants, our desires, our needs and our lusts.  Those who believe that there is no God and that the universe is simply a product of chance observes this tendency towards self-preservation and argues that we have a natural instinct towards the survival of the fittest; that we will only do that which assures our own survival or the continuation of the species.  All “serving” would then be utilitarian with the goal of serving our own interests.  When we give and serve, expecting nothing in return, we are declaring “PURPOSE!”  We are demonstrating the fact that we are made in the image of the living God, reflecting His character to a dying world.

If we are going to call ourselves disciples of Jesus, there is no alternative. If we are not serving, we are not following. Look for ways to serve both your church and your community. Get involved in some of the ministry or pray about what ministry God may be calling you to start in 2016. Whatever it is, get off the sidelines and engage in the ministry you were designed to do!

4 Reasons I Volunteered for Jury Duty

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That’s right, I volunteered for Jury Duty.  No, to my knowledge, I’ve not lost my ever-loving mind.  I thought it through and I volunteered to serve for the next four months on a Grand Jury. I suppose I should start out with how I was actually able to volunteer since, normally, one is “volunteered” for it.  When I checked in, I assumed it would be like other jury selections of which I’ve gleefully participated and an elimination process would ensue at which point I would be among the chosen few or, like many of the hopefuls I would be playing judge for, get off Scott free. This was very different.

To my surprise, I quickly learned that the court prefers volunteers to sit on the Grand Jury.  Because of the length of service and the nature of this particular type of jury, it is best to have those who, for whatever reason, want to serve.  

Admittedly, my first reaction was, “Who in their right mind would want to serve for four months on some jury?” The more I thought about it, though, the more it became a real decision I had to consider: do I sit back and hope for the best, waiting to see if there were enough volunteers to fill the seats without me being drafted, or proactively take one of the seats of my own volition.  The decision turned out to be a tough one, but I chose the former…of course you already knew that.  The question is, why?

As I sat deliberating over my course of action, I quickly weighed the pros and cons: I thought about the time commitment–all day every other Monday and Tuesday throughout the entire Summer.  Well, there’s one strike against it.  I thought about the heinous nature and the sheer volume of the crimes I might have to consider…strike two.  I thought about my already busy schedule as a pastor.  I didn’t need to add something so time-consuming to my already-full docket.  Strike three…but not out.  As I began to pray about it, asking God to reveal to me what He wanted me to do, other considerations began to flood my mind.

1.  We talk a lot about the need for the Church to make a difference in the world…a world where her influence as the Church is being eroded almost daily.  It seems as though anything related to conservative orthodox Christianity is marginalized as antiquated and out of touch with mainline culture.  How can we really make a difference, putting our faith into action?  This is an opportunity, as a child of the very One who defines what is just, to serve in a position of influence within the community.  As one filled with the Holy Spirit of God, there is no one better qualified to serve in such a capacity.  Yet, rather than take these opportunities, we regularly do everything we can to get out of them. Ouch.

2.  I’ve done my share of complaining about the justice system.  Almost every time I watch the news, I bemoan the lack of accountability with politicians bending (or outright redefining) the law to hardened criminals who get little more than a slap on the wrist for destroying lives.  If I’m not willing to serve when I have the opportunity to make a difference, quite frankly, I need to shut up.

3.  To serve is a privilege in a free society. In this Country, an individual accused of a crime is not left to defend themselves before some crooked dictator, but before fellow citizens and peers. We, as citizens, have the final say in declaring guilt or innocence. That is something I am both thankful for and whole-heartedly support and should be proud to participate in the process.

4.  Most importantly, I thought about my children.  I want my sons to grow up with a sense of responsibility.  I want them to be ready at all times to stand up for what is right and be a part of the solution in the world in which they live.  I want them to be men of integrity who can be trusted to do the right thing all the time and be willing to be inconvenienced in service to others.  What am I telling them if, when I have the opportunity to take a stand and voluntarily serve the cause of justice, even when inconvenient, I figure out a way to “be excused” from service.  I have a responsibility to my children to set an example and I cannot take the “do-as-I-say, not-as-I-do” approach.  

So, I am gladly serving.  I voluntarily said yes and I know it was the right decision.  That’s not to say there aren’t some really good and valid reasons not to serve under certain circumstances. What I am saying is that we need to do everything we can to make ourselves available to positively influence our world. Am I looking for a pat on the back or an “atta-boy”?  Nope.  Really, this should be the very minimal we do to work at applying our faith in the world in which we live, so it’s really nothing special.  Besides, my first reaction was to try and get excused, so I’m certainly not being noble. It’s really an attempt to remind us to be a bit more intentional about engaging our culture, inconveniencing ourselves to serve where and when we can, living as ambassadors in this world for the glory of God. There is, perhaps, more at stake than we just may realize.
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