Or we were like a mother feeding and looking after her own children. We loved you so much that we shared with you not only God’s Good News but our own lives, too.
1 Thessalonians 2:7b-8 NLT
Another characteristic of the Christian disciple is service. Jesus is our model, sacrificing everything to reveal the person of God to us and to lead us back to friendship with God. It came with Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice. Jesus is the template for practical service.
In my younger days, my teaching was framed by oughts and shoulds. I was rigid, and demanded of others things that I struggled with myself. I learned that platform offered the perfect position from which to cast stones with little danger that any might come back. I demanded of others standards of behaviour that I was not consistently living myself. The word “hypocrite” springs to mind.
Serving means that like a mother who loves her child beyond words, I nurture life. I do not make simple demands or hand down prescriptive truth from the platform. No, I roll my sleeves up and serve at any time in response to the particular needs of the person I’m nurturing.
It’s amazing how parents allow their routines to be turned upside down when caring for the needs of their newborn baby. This is the picture Paul uses to describe Christian servanthood. For 30 years I lived in an extended household and here our lives were open to scrutiny. No hiding the arguments with my wife. No way of avoiding being found out for being lazy with my household responsibilities. The greatest way to witness to the gospel is to open up my life for others to view. Anyone can put on their Sunday best for short periods.
Serving may seem a pressure and an unattractive demand. It’s neither. As in all God’s invitations, you choose the degree to which you say yes. However, serving is critical to Christian discipleship; it is the way of Jesus, in whose footsteps we are to follow.
Consider the ways you serve others and how open your life is for others to view.
Thank you for the joy of serving others. Help me to mirror your sacrificial friendship in my day.