ENGAGE: CONNECT. GROW. SERVE. #3 – GROW – SERMON RESOURCES
ENGAGING THE PRACTICAL TIP
Jesus says this interesting thing in John 15 that we have to wrestle with, his command seems in complete opposition to the life skills we are taught:
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. (John 15:12-17)
On the one hand, we celebrate heroes, people we are willing to sacrifice themselves for others, and then on the other hand we have the Arnold Rothsteins reminding us it’s to “look out for Number One, because if you don’t, no one else will” and its a “dog eat dog” world. Plato pushes in here with this very intriguing thing about the human condition; he describes the soul as a chariot: our intellect is the rider in this chariot and our emotions are the horses. The picture that Plato paints tends to make life into this continuous struggle to keep our emotions under control lest something or someone take advantage of us. Only our rational mind can save us because if we are governed by our emotions, we will fail. This is echoed in the Empire when we are told that any of the seemingly beneficial emotions of compassion, care, and service are a collective waste of time and energy. People, the Empire says, will take advantage of us, they won’t appreciate our efforts, they won’t reciprocate, and often, they will return to the same patterns that caused them to be in need of compassion, care, and service in the first place. But, what if Empire and our authoritative interpreters are giving us all bad advice? What would it look like in a culture of somebodies, if we were willing to be a nobody?
“For whoever is least among you all is the greatest.” (Luke 9:48)
It’s not through power, authority, recognition, material wealth or possessions, nor status; it’s through our service, compassion, and care that we become great
Kingdom of God doesn’t run on authority, status, wealth, and power. We serve the God Who Doesn’t Need Anything by Serving Others. We discover who we are in relation to others. I’m told there’s a word for this: Ubuntu, a loose definition of it means: “I am because you are.” I understand who I am because of you. And I understand clearly who I am because of my relationship with you. I understand my purpose, my calling and way forward because of you. You help shape who I am and who I want to be.
We become better students of Jesus when we trust him and loosen our grip on our fears. This allows us to follow Jesus into the unknown and discover the life that he has for us. So how do you serve the God who doesn’t need anything? Here we discover the gift that the church is to us. It’s like a learning laboratory where we try out and discover the truths of the Gospel. Since our transformation doesn’t occur overnight, we have to start somewhere, and learning to serve others is one way that we help shape and form ourselves into better disciples of Jesus.
The church isn’t a building, but it is really convenient to have a stable central place to gather each week. The church isn’t a social club, but it’s really nice to be in a community that’s learning your name and listening to your story. The church isn’t a social agency, but it’s really great having a community that cares for those at the margins in our community. This happens as we lower our defenses and share our stories with each other, inviting others to help us do life together with them. It’s humbling being in a place where someone expresses a need, and someone with resources is able to answer and help out. It’s not a perfect system and doesn’t always work out. But I’ve been hearing more and more stories of how it is working out. The church isn’t the endpoint of our discipleship, it’s the place where we learn, “How.” How to give our time, treasure, and talent in serve to others. How to love people different than ourselves. How to sit with others in their suffering. How to serve those in need. How to simplify. How to listen. How to pray. How to love. How to be.
If we live in a spirit of openness, this invites Jesus through the Holy Spirit to teach us what it means to be his disciple, what it means to be his student, what it means to trust and be willing to follow Jesus into the unknown.
FIND A WAY TO SERVE
What are your gifts? How can you better use them to honor God? If you are unsure of your gifts, ask God to reveal them to you. You could also ask those closest to you and who know you very well to help you identify them. As you go about your week, pay attention to those around you and try to listen for how God may be nudging you to reach out or respond to a situation. Try by taking one small step towards serving someone. Service can be as simple as listening to someone’s story or praying for them. We are all gifted in different ways. God usually calls us to serve in ways that are in line with our natural gifts. All we have to do is be open.
Feel free to share your experience with others who have also tried this prayer exercise by commenting below or emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.