The other side of service.

Arguably, Chick-fil-A has the best fast food service, period. We have never been so excited to be served chicken in a bag through a drive-thru window without getting out of our vehicle. It’s never tasted so good to be served.

Yet, we currently live in a culture where, outside of shopping, we are apt to try to produce and sustain everything ourselves. We are efficient, intelligible beings who have adequate technology and resources to do whatever we need on our own. But often, we find this isn’t true.For example, some of us rarely seek help until it is the last option. Myself included. We’re prideful. Recently I injured my back. I was immobile (I use this term slightly exaggerated) for nearly an entire day. I rarely allow anything to keep me from doing anything I need. But this was different. I had to rely on others to help me have a normal routine. I had to be driven around and helped to sit up. I was pitiful.

I fear we as members of the Body of Christ often feel the need to accomplish the mission on our own. Though we may be weak, injured, sick, or unable, we force as much out of ourselves as we can get, leaving ourselves completely exhausted. But this isn’t what is asked of us. As we embrace the call to serve, we must remember that those around us are here to serve as well, beside us and (when necessary) to us.

One example of the shocking reality of receiving service is in Jesus’ washing of the disciples’ feet (John 13:1-17). Jesus proclaimed His prophesied role of a suffering servant (Isaiah 53) in an action of utmost humility. He washed the feet of his disciples, who walked miles of dusty paths in only sandals (not Chacos but possibly similar, maybe). Through reluctancy from some at first, Jesus modeled the idea that we must serve. The disciples were about to be served in one of the lowest acts possible at the hands of the One who would bring salvation to the nations. We are served so we serve each other (13:14). We must be quick to serve, but also quick to receive the humble ‘foot-washing’ of our brothers and sisters walking alongside us.

Paul understood the importance of this for the churches and himself:

  1. He called for unity in the churches repeatedly. He called for an understanding of the importance of the gifted roles of different members of the body (1 Corinthians 12:12-27). Without one body part, the body as a whole cannot function as sovereignly designed. One member of the body must rely on the other members of the body to function properly. Each individual is called to fulfill a specific role while serving and building up the body parts surrounding him or her.
  2. Paul understood that apart from the support and service of fellow brothers and sister like Barnabas, Timothy, Silas, Luke, Phoebe, and many church bodies as a whole, he could not effectively spread the gospel to the Jew first, then the Greek. Paul had to rely on others. He knew he could only do so much. And he knew only those around him could do so much.

We see in 1 Corinthians that we are united into one body in one Spirit. Our greatest servant is found in the fullness of the Trinity. Our Father lovingly sent the Son empowered by the Spirit to serve and give His life as a ransom for many. Without receiving the greatest act of service in the history of creation, we are hopeless.

We are served to the utmost so we can serve to the utmost. We are served through the death and resurrection of our Savior so that we may lay our lives down for our brothers (1 John 3:16). We are served so we may serve others first and ourselves last.

We serve those around us because of the love we have received from the humility of our King Jesus. We live knowing that we sometimes must depend on those walking beside us to fulfill needs we cannot fulfill ourselves.

We could not redeem ourselves. We could not justify ourselves. We could not make any payment to reconcile our sinful beings to a holy and righteous God.
We rely on and hope in the only Servant capable of washing us fully enough to share in glory and riches of our God.

Service is two-fold.
We serve because we have been served. Though we are called to serve, we must realize our dependence on the service we receive from those around us and from the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We defeat pride of service by realizing we don’t serve alone, and we cannot serve alone.

Sometimes we need a chicken sandwich. Sometimes we need help sitting up. Sometimes we need our feet to be washed clean.


Bible References:

Photo from Renate Meijer: Flickr

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