Yesterday, I wrote a talk that I plan to give this Friday night to kick off our Southbridge Serves weekend. This weekend we will send out people from our church all over our community to demonstrate the love of Christ. We will serve our city in different ways, from the local elementary school, to the fire-department, rescue mission, strategic partner ministries and we will even go door to door in Brier Creek to seek out needs we can try to meet. Some of the service opportunities are scary, some will stretch people physically, emotionally or spiritually. They will cost time, and some will cost money. The question is: why? Why would anyone want to serve, not only this weekend, but ever? Here are five reasons to consider for gospel service.
1. Jesus is our example.
Jesus serves and He is our ultimate example of service. God has promised that He is doing a work in us. That work is ultimately to make us more like Jesus. Therefore, we should serve.
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross! Philippians 2:5-8
2. Jesus served with a purpose.
We don’t just serve because Jesus served (as if He were merely a great example). Jesus did a lot of serving; from dramatic high profile serving like raising people from the dead, healing leprosy or blind eyes, and feeding the masses to lowly serving like washing feet. However, the service itself was not the end. Jesus Himself says, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45). That last phrase is key. Jesus did not come simply to do good deeds. He had a purpose and it was to give His life away as a ransom for many. Everything He did was pointed towards that end. His payment for our sins.
We serve not simply because Jesus is our example, but because we have a mission of pointing people to the Jesus who paid a ransom for those we are serving. Our purpose is connecting people to that Jesus, so their lives can be changed. We don’t simply serve so they are fed or provided for. We want them to have the genuine hope and transformation that only comes from Jesus. He is more than an example. He is Lord and Savior.
3. God moves our hearts to service.
God’s love for us causes us to love Him and our love for Him compels us to love other people. Love should be the motivator for our service.
We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 1 John 4:19-20
The story of the Good Samaritan is an excellent example of this (Luke 10:25-37). An expert in the law has just had a conversation with Jesus about the two greatest commandments (love God, love your neighbor) and he asks Jesus the question: “And who is my neighbor?” In other words, who do I have to love? Jesus tells him a story not to teach him who his neighbor is, but to teach him how to be a neighbor (Luke 10:36). The neighbor is the one who loves through sacrificial service.
4. The stakes are high.
God in His plan has chosen us to be the ones sent into the world to take Jesus to our world. As Jesus tells His followers in John 20:21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” He came on a search and rescue mission (Luke 19:10) and now He is sending us out on a search and rescue mission to rescue people from hell and point them to eternal life with Him in heaven. The stakes are high: heaven and hell.
God desires that everyone would know Him (2 Peter 3:9) and He chooses to use us to be the deliverers of His life saving message. As Paul declares,
We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:20-21
Our service may be the very thing that God uses to point people to His Son Jesus Christ and save them from hell.
5. God uses our service for His glory.
One of the reasons we serve is because God works through service.
In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16
Notice that the praise is not for us. When people see our good deeds they are getting a glimpse of God. As believers we have Jesus and when we serve we are taking Jesus to the people we serve. Just as when Jesus washed His disciples feet He was showing them the full extent of His love (John 13:1), when we serve we are demonstrating God’s love and that brings Him glory. Service can come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, but whatever gift you have you should use it to serve others for God’s glory.
Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:10-11
These are just a few reasons why we serve. Can you think of some other reasons why someone would serve others? Your feedback may help me for my talk on Friday night.