Summary: A special service to honor the local firefighters. I used a variety of passage to highlight how the firefighters demonstrated the level of passionate service that Christ's followers should show.
Well, good morning. Today, we continue on with our four core values of worship, discipleship, outreach, and community. Today, we swing back around to the value of outreach. Implied in the value of outreach is this idea of service. Service basically means just being available to serve to take care of the needs of others. As I began to think about this idea of service, I began to think about what would be a good example of service. Then I realized, we have these firefighters here, and they are actually great examples of service. In fact, I would say they epitomize service because they take service to a new level. Most of us serve, but they basically serve over and above. They take things back to a willingness to serve. They go beyond the basic levels of service all the way over to what I would call passionate service. I was thinking about it. If we had a group of firefighters and we had a group of people in the church dedicated to performing that same level of service, not only would the community be protected from things like house fires, they would be protected from other fires. The fires that would seek to destroy family, that would seek to destroy finances, that would seek to destroy health, and even faith. What I want to look at in the next few minutes is what I call passionate service. The six ingredients of passionate service.
The first area of service or the first ingredient of passionate service is what I refer to as a willingness to serve. Willingness to serve is basically the idea that you are available. I know some of these guys very well, and I doubt that any of them had to be strong-armed, convinced, or coerced, or forced into service. They were all willing to serve. Likewise, Christians are called to be servants. It is very clear, if you’ve done any reading in the Bible, you know there are passages after passages that speak of this idea of service. Some speak directly and some speak indirectly. One passage that I think really speaks of this idea of service comes out of the Book of 1 John 4:19 which says “We love because He first loved us.” We are talking about God’s love to us. We are not talking obviously of a romantic love. We are talking about a sacrificial-type love. A love that was a passionate love that basically involved Jesus Christ being crucified on the cross. We see in John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” That is the kind of love we are talking about. That is the kind of passion that we are talking about. Likewise, Christians are called to sacrificial service. Obviously, we can’t die on the cross, but we can die to ourselves. We can die to our own self-interest or our own self desires at least long enough to be available and willing to serve others. Unfortunately, there are Christians who do not allow enough margins in their lives to serve others. They fill their lives with so many things. They fill it with hobbies and sports and technology and work and all these things that tend to take over their life so there is nothing left to serve. Finally, when they do serve, a lot of times what happens is they serve out of a sense of dread and obligation and drudgery. When they do that, they zap the life out of service. Christians are called to serve, but they are called to joyous service. When Christians are serving, they are supposed to feel a sense of fulfillment. They are supposed to feel a sense of satisfaction. Why? Because they are doing what God has wired them to do. In other words, they are operating within their area of giftedness, their skillset, and their talents, which is really the next thing I want to talk about.
The next ingredient of passionate service is knowing your gifts, your skills, and your talents. I suspect there might be a few of you people here who know this, but probably very few know this, is the fact that I am actually a firefighter. Did anybody know that? One person is raising their hand. I’ve got proof that I am a firefighter. I’ve got my helmet. Actually, I’m not a firefighter, I’m a fire chaplain. There is a bit difference there because you notice that my helmet is nice and shiny and clean. What does that mean? It doesn’t mean I don’t just take care of the helmet. It means I don’t go to many fires yet and that suits Debbie perfectly fine because she is afraid I’m going to get hurt. I have been actually on three responses. One was a false alarm. The second one was some sort of a gas leak. The third response was probably the most dangerous. I was asked to help escort Santa Claus on the Christmas parade through 200 screaming kids down to the Light of Light Night. That is tough stuff. The bottom line of what I am trying to say is that the helmet does not make a firefighter. One thing I know by hanging around the firehouse is that it takes a lot of skills to be a firefighter. Before I started hanging around at the firehouse, I used to think like many of you how tough can it be. The fire goes, an alarm sounds, you slide down the pole. You grab your helmet. You grab your hose. You get your coat and you get on the truck and you go. Simple as that. Well, the first thing is I haven’t found the pole yet. I am still waiting. You have to walk down steps really fast over there at Bellevue. Really, it is very complicated, and it is requires a lot of skill to be a firefighter. Everything is complicated. Something as simple as hoses. I have learned a lot about hoses. I learned there are long hoses and there are short hoses. There are different colors of hoses. There are different diameters of hoses, and they are all designed to accomplish different things whether it is a trash fire or a structure fire or somewhere in between. I learned that you have a lot of pressure gauges to regulate the amount of water that is going to go through the hose. That is an important thing. The poor guy up on the third floor wants to make sure when he is fighting a fire that he is going to get enough water there and that he’s not just standing there and all of a sudden the water just dribbles out. Or if there is too much pressure, then what happens is they can’t keep control of that hose, and it could kick them back if it is too strong. There is a lot of skill involved in that. There are all sorts of equipment to learn about. They have all these tools for making sure that you can force your way into some sort of a structure. Knock down a door. Knock a hole in the roof or possibly use those Jaws of Life to extract somebody from a car following an accident. They have to know about different types of vehicles. Here is a question that I didn’t know. How many of you know there is actually a difference between a fire truck and a fire engine? I used to think there wasn’t a difference. The fire truck is the one that carries the ladder. The fire engine carries the pump to pump the water. That is the difference, but it took me about three months to learn that. There is a difference. There is a lot of skill that is involved in trying to be a firefighter. The more skilled that you are, like anything else, the more prepared you feel and the more fulfilled you feel in doing that particular occupation. You feel equipped, so you have a sense of joy to what you do.