A group of ecstatic people gathered together in an impressive stadium for the biggest award ceremony in history. Various news channels broadcasted the event and discussed who would be the champion. Chatter about the occasion surrounded the watercooler at workplaces everywhere. Finally, the presenter walked on stage in his gallant attire with a confident poise while holding a shimmering envelope in his palm. Never had the world been so silent; never had the world been so attentive; never had the air felt so thick. “I know you’ve all been anxiously awaiting this moment, and it’s finally here. After much deliberation, it was obvious who was the most deserving of the most prestigious award in history.” Excited but shaky hands opened the envelope and unfolded the parchment concealed inside of it. The winner’s name was read, but there was no cheering, no excitement, no celebration; only dumbfounded and blank countenances filled the world that had waited so eagerly. An elderly woman who no one had ever heard of, who had never done anything extraordinary, who had never been out of her hometown, and who had never been called brilliant in any fashion, took the most prestigious award in the world into her hands. She looked just as flabbergasted as the rest of the world.
I am convinced that those that the Lord will lift the highest in heaven will be those Christians that we noticed the least. I am convinced that the greatest reward will not be given to the greatest preacher, evangelist, writer, organizer, or teacher for Christ. It will be the ones who labored without expectation of recognition. It will be the one who was willing to do the most tedious and basic tasks for the name of Jesus Christ—believing that He saw it all. Christ did not come to be served but to serve (Matt. 20:28; Mark 10:45). And, most certainly, Christ is the most esteemed human of all time. Though, the one who will be closest to his footsteps will be the one who is a servant (Matt. 23:11; Mark 9:35).
James and John, before gaining spiritual maturity, wanted to be second to Jesus in His Kingdom. Jesus replied to them with the upside down statement that they needed to be at the bottom if they wished to be at the top—that they needed to be a slave if they wished to be welcomed with glorified esteem into the Kingdom (Mark 10:43). I wonder how long it took James and John to realize how ironic Christ’s reply to them was. I ponder this because to seek greatness through service defeats the very purpose of service. It is not a sin to desire to be recognized by God, but the heart that seeks to serve simply out of love of God and neighbor is the greatest and purest heart. A heart of humility is what Christ desires for His Kingdom. Truly, Christ desires a heart that reflects how He, being fully divine, humbly became fully human so that he might serve us—the undivine, the unworthy, and the sinful (Phil. 2:3-11).
We are called to serve as Christ served. We are commanded to use the gifts we have been blessed with to share God’s grace with the world (1 Pet. 4:10). Are we truly utilizing those gifts for the optimum return for the Kingdom? Are we making time in our busy schedules to serve Christ? Service is truly a spiritual discipline that forms us. God does transform us when we read the Bible, pray, worship, and the like; these acts of piety, though, do not encompass the whole Christian life. Performing acts of service allow God to do a different work within us than when we participate in acts of piety. It is one thing to read about or watch a sport or activity. It is another thing to participate in that activity. True humility is not learned from the mouth of the preacher but from the face of the needy. True humility is not learned from the hand of the author but from the scrubbing of a nasty toilet that’s not yours.
Is there anything we think we are too good to do? Then maybe we should do it. Is there anything we are unwilling to do just because we know that we will not like it? Then maybe we should do it. As I said before, we need to use our gifts and it is an act of disobedience not to do so. Though, we need to also be willing to band together as the people of God did under Nehemiah to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem (Neh. 3). Perfumers and goldsmiths were helping to build a wall—something that was not their specialty or gifting. So, while we need to find a way to use our gifts in the Church, we cannot shy away from those tedious things in the congregation that need to be done. Perhaps Christ was not particularly gifted in washing feet, but he did it. Christ dwelled with the lowly and performed tasks that were egregiously below his position. If Christ can serve when needed, can we?
Volunteering in the local church is an act of service—regardless of whether you are gifted in doing something or not. Should you be placed in a position where you are utilizing the skills the Holy Spirit has gifted you with for the glory of God and the edification of the Body? Of course! Though, as we have seen, sometimes there are situations where no one is specially gifted to fill a position of need within a church. Buses may need to be driven, coffee may need to be brewed, chairs may need to be set-up, etc. In addition to making ourselves available for tasks that correspond to our gifts, are we making ourselves available when our church needs tedious and basic tasks done? Though we can be sure that if Christ were with us he would probably be teaching lessons and preaching sermons, we can also be sure that he would never find Himself to be too lofty to perform any task at a church. Are we people who serve like Christ’s serves? Or are we a people who normally find ourselves asking, “Can someone else do that?”
Jared M. Webb, Assistant Pastor