I have been taught a strong ethic of serving others from the time I was born until now. I’m still being taught it, if I’m honest. And it’s for sure something I want to teach my son. I have to thank my mom for teaching me how to give, how to serve, how to love others.
Giving has been a part of our community from its very inception. It’s the bread and butter of how to be a Christian. We’re taught from before Scripture came into existence to give, and even as people say we now live in such an extremely selfish world, I still see giving and serving happening every day.
From natural disasters down to the very smallest of things, we serve each other. It might not be giving in big grandeur ways, but we need to have the heart of a servant. When Jesus washed the feet of those who were traveling. It was a simple gesture but one that went beyond the most lavish of gifts.
These are the types of things I’m talking about. Being a host to someone in need, keeping our ears and eyes open to those opportunities that arise that allow us to have a servant’s heart and to be the serving community that we are called to be.
Think about the ways you have been served throughout your years. I’m sure there have been big moments, and I’m just as equally sure that some of them have been small in action but just as grand in meaning. These are the moments that we cling to, that we learn from, that we hope to transfer onto the next person.
We are called as believers in God, as followers of Jesus, as those who claim to be saved and loved by our Creator, to be a serving people, to be a serving community. We are called to have servant hearts. This is our job, if you will, as Christians.
It’s not to be the very best, but to humbly walk around in this life, looking for opportunities to serve and share the love of God with others. We’re not here to make fanfare, to have the bells and whistles of power. We’re here to serve, to be down on our hands and knees and be helping someone who we know is at the exact same level as us.
Back when I was in seminary, I was asked to go with the middle school youth on a mission trip. We had about fifty kids with us, and many of them had never been on a mission trip before. We went and worked at the Oklahoma City Food Bank, which is a HUGE facility.
It felt like it spanned this entire city, but it probably wasn’t that big. I know that due to the age of our kids, they weren’t allowed to do every single job necessary when packing up frozen corn, so the adults were pulled into the work as well. Which was fantastic!
However, while I was dragging the pallet of frozen corn, freshly boxed and packaged to be sent out and given, from one end of the facility to the next, I couldn’t help but notice a few workers in particular. Ones who all wore the gray clothes of inmates.
I watched as they worked, as they chatted, as they were the ones scrubbing the floors and mopping and cleaning the bathrooms. Why weren’t our kids doing that kind of work? Why weren’t our kids interacting with individuals who clearly needed them just as much as the kids needed the inmates?
I knew if they were working in a facility like that, relatively unsupervised that they weren’t harmful. Yet our middle school kids were doing the glorified work while the inmates did the grunt work. Why?
I knew instantly that it was because there was some sort of built in hierarchy, that without a doubt, the white, rich kids from Fort Worth, Texas wouldn’t have come if they’d known they were going to be scrubbing toilets and mopping floors. They wanted “hands on” work. They wanted to be doing something they could visibly see for someone else.
And that’s a tragedy. They could have learned so much about what it means to be a servant, about what it means to be considered the lowest of lows, about what it means to serve someone who is seen as an utter outcast. Instead, as soon as they finished packaging the frozen corn, they were sent outside to pick strawberries in the modern and urban garden the facility also owns.
This reminds me so strongly of what Jesus is saying and how we as the leaders on that mission trip failed to teach the children the lesson they really needed to learn.
“You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be a slave of all. For the Son of God came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
Not just one. Not just those who hadn’t messed up to the point of incarceration. Not just for those who were hungry, but for those who needed to learn, to be taught, to be loved wholly and unconditionally.
We are a serving community. That is our call, our mission. It’s our way as followers of Christ. A saved people serves people. Not just those who are hungry and those who are thirsty or those who are homeless, but those who are in need of anything and everything. Those who need to know the love of Christ, the call of God themselves, those who are serving not to get out of a punishment, but are serving because their hearts demand it.