Micheal Morrison, Connections Minister
On the surface, volunteer service seems like such a novel idea. Volunteering to serve is something that looks good on a resume or application. It is something we all think about and say to ourselves how great it would be. Then when it comes time to act on serving it is a completely different story. We say things like, "I don’t have the time" or "Someone else will do it". When we do serve we tend to only serve if it is convenient to our schedule instead of fitting our schedule around our serving. More than likely, you have been to a worship service where the pastor or a church leader stands up front and announces how the church needs more volunteers, but what is rarely talked about is the reason why we serve.
In Romans 12:9-13, Paul tell us, “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of saints and seek to show hospitality”. In the time when this was written, people depended on help from fellow believers for things such as places to stay during travel. This is very different from an individual based viewpoint today, but Paul is telling us to pursue hospitality. We can look at Jesus and the time He washed the disciple’s feet in John 13: 1-20. I don’t know about you, but the thought of washing someone else’s feet is not exactly how I would want to serve someone. When I think of serving, I think of feeding the homeless or giving clothes to people in need, you know, something that does not require me to get out of my comfort zone or to feel like I am below the person I am serving. But from a biblical perspective, serving is inexplicably linked to humility. In Philippians 2:5-9 we see Christ humbling Himself in this way, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who thought he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” So, when we look at a service opportunity and we think it is below us, we should remember that Christ made himself lower and lower in order to serve people. Paul tells the people of Ephesus to be imitators of God in Ephesians 5:1 “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children” and in 1 John 2:6 we are told “whoever says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same way in which He walked”. So, if we are to imitate Christ, then how can we not humble ourselves in order to serve others?
When we hear a church leader or pastor say, "We serve because Christ came to serve and not to be served,” it is not just a recruitment phrase to get people to serve, it was the mission statement of Christ’s ministry. My aim here is not to get anyone in a rush to sign up to serve on ministry teams within the church, but to help shed light on the fact that we are truly called to serve one another, out of love and joy, not a joyless obligation. In 1 Peter 4:10-11, Peter talks about the gifts we get from God and how we are to use them. When we serve others, we are driven to glorify God, and by bringing Him glory we will find joy and peace for ourselves. So, the next time we see a chance to serve either within the church family or in our daily lives, I hope we can remember that if Christ can humble Himself to the point of washing His disciples’ feet or through giving His life for ours on the cross, then we as followers should humble ourselves and serve one another, as a worshipful response to what God has done for us in Christ.