Summary: If we want to be truly great, we must be sincere servants. Let’s focus on serving one another as we anticipate what God will do in the next 35 years at PBC!
Serve One Another
This Tuesday marks the 35th anniversary of Pontiac Bible Church! As we celebrate three and a half decades of servanthood, I’d like to read from an early church document entitled, “Progress Report.”
“The desire to see the Word of God presented as a positive solution to the needs of people was the ‘mustard seed’ for the Pontiac Bible Church. The Lord, in His time, selected February 18, 1968 as the beginning with approximately 25 people attending. Much prayer and seeking of God’s direction preceded that first Sunday…Pontiac Bible Church continues to be based on the New Testament principle of strong ‘lay leadership.’ Each member of our church family is encouraged to use his spiritual gifts for the building up of the saints and evangelizing our community.”
This church has always been an assembly of servants. On Friday night there was a birthday party here for some saints who have turned 60. Pastor Frank and Judie Beatty, who served this church from 1975-1989, arrived early so I had a chance to visit with them before anyone else arrived. As we were talking, Pastor Frank looked around and asked me if I could find a bucket. He then pointed out that there was some mud on the sidewalk outside the main entrance. I looked around and couldn’t find one. When I came back to the doors, Frank was already outside with a bucket of water and a broom, sweeping off the mud while the wind was blowing and the snow was flying!
I am so thankful for those who have served the Savior here at Pontiac Bible Church over the years and I’d like to share a few snapshots with you this morning. The saying that a picture is worth a thousand words is certainly true!
Those of us who have only been here for a few years, or a few months, or a few weeks, have benefited greatly from those who have been serving the Savior and the saints faithfully for years at PBC. Along with Pastor Frank and Judy, I also had the privilege of talking with Pastor Stan Weideman and Pastor Ralph Foote. I was very moved by their passion for Christ and by their love for this church. I got teary as I looked around the fellowship hall at about 25 PBC members who have been giving of their time, treasures and talents for many years. I realized that the growth we’ve been experiencing has come on their shoulders and as a result of the time they’ve spent on their knees. I hope you never stop as the rest of us try to keep up with you.
I want to suggest that if we’re not careful, instead of celebrating servanthood we can very easily end up substituting selfishness. Snapshots of servants can be replaced with pictures of pew potatoes. Since our default setting is to dominate instead of downgrade ourselves, we need to be reframed and reminded about the primacy of serving one another.
Please turn in your Bibles to Matthew 20:20-28. We’re going to go through this quickly because I want us to also spend some time in Romans 16. The setting is about a week before the crucifixion and Jesus and his disciples are walking toward Jerusalem. As Jesus is preparing them for his bloody death, two of his top men are angling for the best seats in the coming kingdom. The pictures that emerge here are strikingly similar to the photos in our own spiritual scrapbooks.
Snapshots of Selfishness
1. We want first place (20-21). The mother of James and John is trying to get her sons the best spots in Christ’s cabinet in verse 21: “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.” According to the parallel passage in Mark 10, these boys were not just waiting for mom to make her move. They were positioning themselves all on their own. If we could see a shot of their faces, they’d be filled with pride and selfishness because they were interested in glory, position and rank. They wanted to be the closest to Jesus and higher than anyone else.
The basic problem is that James and John underestimated the cost of following Christ and they overestimated their own importance. Notice that they didn’t ask for work in the coming kingdom (which would have been a nobler request). Instead, they just wanted a place of honor. They were banking on their seniority because they had been with Jesus longer than anyone except Peter! And they probably thought the Kingdom was coming soon so they wanted to get their applications in early. To use a phrase from the college admissions process, they wanted “early acceptance.”
2. God chooses our place (22-23). In verse 22, Jesus told them they didn’t know what they were asking. It’s been reported that Muhammad Ali was on a plane once when he was the heavyweight champion of the world and the flight attendant asked him to buckle his seat belt. He looked at her smugly and said, “Superman don’t need no seat-belt.” She quickly answered, “Superman don’t need no airplane either.”