There is a lot of talk these days about the Church, good and bad. I fear, since the talk seems to be mostly bad, that we have lost sight of what the Church really is, who we are– we who make up the body of Christ. So, for a-yet-to-be-determined number of posts, I’ll be discussing ways the Bible describes the Church and what that means to us. I’ll also be ending each post with a guide for prayer, so we can join together in calling upon God to make us who he meant for us to be.
If you approach the world with the apron of a servant, then you are allowed to go places that you can’t go if you approach it with the crown of a king.
– Jon Foreman
The Bible tells us that when we accept Jesus’ service and sacrifice for us, we are adopted into God’s family– we become sons and daughters of the heavenly king. But Scripture also makes it clear that we aren’t supposed to act like spoiled royalty. Instead, we are to follow the example of our Servant Savior. While on earth, we are to live as servants to those around us. This is the way that we most glorify our king, and the best way to embrace our identity as his children.
John 13 is perhaps the clearest example in the Bible of what it means to be a servant. Jesus both shows and tells his disciples how they should live as servants. Before he made the ultimate sacrifice, Jesus showed his disciples its purpose through the washing of their feet. His act of service was symbolic of what he was about to do. Dying on the cross was the ultimate act of self-sacrifice and service. The reason he came to earth was not “to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28, NKJV).
If Jesus, their teacher and Lord, washed his disciples’ feet, they could wash one another’s feet (John 13:14). If he served them, they could serve one another and others. Self-sacrifice is how Christ showed his love for his own, and it is how his own show his love to each other and to others (John 13:35).
Jesus died for us, and he calls his true followers to serve in this way: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 16:24-25, NKJV).
We are to serve in the same way Jesus did: sacrificially: with love, humility, and a willingness to work. This is our proper response to a God who would bend down on human hands and knees to wash our dirty souls.
We certainly can’t meet all the needs of the world, but we are still called to serve. One changed life is worth a lifetime of service. As believers, we must remember the example of service Christ set for us and the expectation of service we have as his followers. We serve not to earn our way into heaven, nor to make ourselves look good, but to lift up God’s name among his people and in all the earth.
Why do Christians walk through life feeling a humble sense that we owe service to people, rather than them owing us? The answer is that Christ loved us and died for us and forgave us and accepted us and justified us and gave us eternal life and made us heirs of the world when he owed us nothing. He treated us as worthy of his service, when we were not worthy…
Let’s pray for an attitude of service.
Heavenly Father, we can never thank you enough for adopting us into your family. We know we don’t deserve your love or your sacrifice, but you gave both anyway. You taught us what it means to be a true servant through Jesus. Through him, we see a beautiful paradox of who you are– a God who serves and who also reigns. May we look forward to the day when we reign with you, as your sons and daughters.
In the meantime, help us to remember our mission on earth is the same as Christ’s: not to be served, but to serve. Show us tangible ways every day that we can express our love for you and for others by being servants. Give us the strength, courage, and humility not to back away from a task because it is too difficult or demeaning or disgusting. Instead, let us be happy to take the lowest positions and the dirtiest jobs, not for fanfare, but as an act of worship to you.
Forgive us for being lazy and apathetic when there is work to be done for you. Teach us to do good work with right intentions, to serve others in a culture that has us believing we should be the ones being served. Remind us that nothing which brings glory to your name is beneath us. You served and continue to serve us, though you are the Most High God. It is our turn to serve.
COMMENT: Who has been a servant-leader in your life? What did they do that makes you think of them in that way?
You can read more from the We Are Your Church series here.