Summary: God is constantly at working preparing and restoring His servants. This sermon discovers what it means to be a servant of God.
If a friend of yours was to ask you what it means to be a servant of God, how would you respond?
In our reading from Isaiah 49 God reveals some of the things about being one of his servants.
Interestingly this reading is a prophecy spoken many years before Jesus was born on earth
to help people identify who the Messiah is.
But even for each one of us it can be helpful for us to understand what it means to be a servant of God.
At times you may feel exactly like verse 4
4 But I said, “I have labored to no purpose;
I have spent my strength in vain and for nothing.
Yet what is due me is in the LORD’s hand,
and my reward is with my God.”
God doesn’t hide the fact that there will be struggles, there will be difficulties in being a Christian.
That at times shinning God’s light in the world is not glamorous or easy.
Maybe you have felt that you haven’t contributed much.
Perhaps you feel like an old worn out couch or broken down car when it comes to being a Christian,
that no one is interested in anymore.
Maybe family members seem to be like rock solid brick walls.
You have tried being a faithful witness and have almost given up because no one seems to take notice.
You feel what is the point.
Well part of this feeling is that many of us at times feel that life should be one constant improvement.
Our view of life is that things should keep going up and up.
And when it doesn’t it is easy to become disillusioned, to give up.
To stop contributing, and to simply go through the motions.
But if we examine God’s approach to life.
Life is one of constant up and downs.
If we were to graph the life of most people it would be a graph highlighting highs and lows, and ups and downs.
In fact for many people life is like a five set tennis match.
Tennis matches rarely go to five sets,
without both players experiencing some extreme highs and some extreme lows.
It is the same for our life,
our Christian life and our church life both as individuals and as a community.
One thing that is helpful for us is to take a long term view of life, rather than a short term view.
Over the last few months I have been reading a number of books on developing a discipleship lifestyle and congregation.
There are some interesting facts one commentator highlights that congregations who are serious about making disciples will at times suffer a reduction in numbers and an increase in challenges,
because being a disciple of Jesus involves somewhat of a different attitude than being a consumer of Jesus.
Many people are happy to choose some things about Jesus, however they are not always happy about being involved what it means to be a disciple.
That is something for each of us to think about.
The difference of being a disciple of Jesus or a consumer.
A disciple sticks with Jesus regardless of whether things are going well or not,
So lets look at what it means to be a servant of God, a disciple of God according to Isaiah 49.
Verse one-three reminds us that every servant of God’s is there because God has taken the initiative to:
Select them as a servant,
to prepare them as a servant
and to be showcases of God’s love.
Jesus was the one selected by God to be our Messiah.
If we were to chart Jesus’ success in ministry on a chart according to what we believed or even the Jewish people believed a Messiah would do mostlikely many of us would have said at the time he failed.
At one stage early in his ministry he had over 5000 people listening to him in one spot,
but over time this dwindled to less than 12.
If we were to measure his success just before his death, like some did, when they screamed if you are God save yourself, Jesus failed as God’s servant.
But history and the bible shows this is not he case.
Jesus did not fail as God’s servant.
Jesus remained loyal.
Even at the start of his ministry there is a hint that God’s approach to life is somewhat different to ours.
In the Gospel reading we heard, which is talking about a time at the start of Jesus’ ministry
John refers to Jesus as the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.
Now when we look at the Old Testament the lamb doesn’t take away the sin of the world by eating it.
The only way a lamb could take away sin was to be slaughtered, sacrificed.