Summary: A Christianity that allows you to escape living by radical faith in God is not a Chrsitianity that would be recognized by the early church, or by many believers in third-world countries around the world.
Strength is For Service Not for Status
Pastor Dan Little
The Landmark Church, Binghamton, NY 13901
Jesus showed the disciples what it meant to live as a servant. For three years He modeled the servant life before them, and then toward the end of His earthly ministry he gave them a real-time demonstration of service by washing their feet. After they had looked on in horror at what their miracle-working Master was doing, He said to them “Do you see what I am doing? I am showing you what it means to be a servant.” And then came these words: John 13:17 If you know these things, BLESSED ARE YOU IF YOU DO THEM.
Of course Jesus’ ultimate servant-act was to give up His own life in order to save ours. He died on the cross while breathing out forgiveness to His torturers. Even before going to the cross Jesus told His disciples that to follow Him that each would have to take up his own cross each day. Disciples are not greater than their Master; we are to live as Jesus lived.
This morning I want to add another layer to the theme that we must go beyond studying, blogging, teaching, and learning the Word of God to where actually enter deep into the blessing of doing the Word of God.
Romans 15:1-6 (The Message Bible)
15:1 Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is most convenient for us. Strength is for service, not status. 2 Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, "How can I help?"
3 That’s exactly what Jesus did. He didn’t make it easy for himself by avoiding people’s troubles, but waded right in and helped out. "I took on the troubles of the troubled," is the way Scripture puts it. 4 Even if it was written in Scripture long ago, you can be sure it’s written for us. God wants the combination of his steady, constant calling and warm, personal counsel in Scripture to come to characterize us, keeping us alert for whatever he will do next. 5 May our dependably steady and warmly personal God develop maturity in you so that you get along with each other as well as Jesus gets along with us all. 6 Then we’ll be a choir — not our voices only, but our very lives singing in harmony in a stunning anthem to the God and Father of our Master Jesus! (MsgB)
This is The Word of the Lord
It is a sign of Spiritual health and maturity when a believer begins to look around his local church and ask “How can I help?”
This is a quite different question than the one asked by people switching from one church to another. Maybe it’s just my experience, but I have noticed that many of them arrive asking, “What can I do to fix this church—rearrange it to fit my own preferences?”
But it is this “How can I help?” servant attitude that is causing the churches in Northern India among the Dalits (untouchables) to grow and prosper these days. People are entering into the kingdom by the thousands, and almost the first words they speak after baptism are ”How can I serve?”
These words come out of a heart overflowing with gratitude to Jesus for redeeming their lives from slavery, idolatry, hopelessness and death. They feel Jesus’ presence. He answers their prayers and saves their friends, and they are on fire to see others added to the church—the future Bride of Christ.
Western Missionaries who become acquainted with what God is doing in such places as described above come back saying that material poverty has made these people fabulously rich in faith and relationships. They have a vibrant love for Christ, a new appreciation for their own lives, for each other, for the community at large, as well as a new appreciation for all that God has created.
When it comes to the larger communities in which they live they have a kind of hunger and urgency to see their whole tribe or village come to know Jesus.
Here in the West (speaking in broad generalities—a dangerous thing to do, I know), it tends to be the other way around. We have all kinds of material wealth but experience a poverty of faith and relationships, and have a kind of blunted hunger to see people come to know Jesus.
For my birthday I received a new addition to my collection of gadgets; a Nook Pad. It’s a great gadget, but here is the problem with all my gadgets. I can be in touch with the world and never have to lift my head to look anyone in the eye and say a real and meaningful “Hello, how are you?”