"Then the righteous will answers him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it for me."
-Jesus of Nazareth in Matthew 25
This same Jesus who said the above also told us that the greatest in His Kingdom would be the servant of all. He then set the example as He served His followers by washing their dirty feet after a long day on the road. Ultimately, He set the example of service as He died on the cross for the sins of humanity - Even those who would deny His existence or warp what He said to fit their own agenda and even those of us who have received that gift of grace. The essence of the Christian life is found in a deeply planted passion to serve others. When we experience regeneration, we now have a heart which is thrilled to serve others...not because we HAVE to but because we are compelled to. We find our greatest joy and satisfaction in life when we see others touched by the love of Jesus through our service.
We live in a self-centered world. People have become takers, whiners and complainers. Just read most Facebook posts and you will see people venting, pointing out the flaws of others and posting articles which slam other people with a different world view. We live in a country which has become deeply divided by race, region, politics and so many other ways. The one place where this doesn't happen is in the church. Each Sunday, it is refreshing to see an incredible mix of people coming together to worship Jesus and minister to each other. So what does service look like? Here are a few glimpses I have seen in the past few weeks:
-Service looks like followers of Jesus filling shoe boxes with toys, supplies and gifts for children all over the world whom they will never meet. A church of only 75 on a Sunday morning collected 80 shoe boxes to give to Samaritan's Purse so that unknown kids in unknown corners of the world could know the joy of receiving an unexpected gift - And maybe the gift of salvation.
-Service looks like followers of Jesus bringing boxes of pie crust mix to give to the Telegraph Center in Oakland so those who are need could have a dessert on Thanksgiving. If not for Hillcrest Baptist Church, the Telegraph Center would only have food for a meal and not for dessert. The East Bay Baptist Association has over 140 churches/missions, but Hillcrest is the only one who gives food to this outreach. Service is a desire to help people in need, even if we will not see or meet those people.
-Service looks like followers of Jesus getting together to go and visit those in our church. They are attempting to visit all of our church members and see what needs there may be and how we can meet them. They want everyone in our church family to know they are loved and deeply cared for.
-Service looks like children who are so excited about coming to church that they invite and bring their friends. This past Sunday evening at TeamKid, we had sixteen children in grades 1-6. Seven of those kids have no family at our church, but they come and learn about Jesus. One of those was being brought by her neighbor (Who is a member of our church) and this young girl said, "I love this church".
-Service looks like followers of Jesus caring so much about the witness of the church that they clean the church every week. These members give up their time to sweep, mop, vacuum, dust, empty trash and do so much more. No one thanks them and most people don't know they are cleaning, but they serve Jesus.
There are many more examples from Hillcrest Baptist Church that help us understand what service looks like, but there is not enough room in this blog. As Pastor of this church, I want to thank you for your service. I know if many churches, a small number of people do most of the service, but that isn't the case here. Thank you for all the ways you serve in Jesus' name and the way you touch lives each day with the love of Jesus. One day, you will hear from THE King, "Come, you who are blessed by my Father, take your inheritance, the Kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world."