Tag Archives: service

Think About a Verse

Open Bible

The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Mark 10:45

  • Contemporary culture is adamant about the importance of customer service. What does this verse say to a customer who is angry that his order was not properly filled and delivery was a day late?
  • A person who supervises other people has a right to expect prompt, complete obedience to instructions. When your supervisor speaks to you with a rude, dismissive attitude and asks you to do something beneath your dignity, how does the example of Jesus shape your behavior? When you are the supervisor and an employee responds to your instructions with glib indifference, how does the example of Jesus shape your behavior?
  • What is the difference between being a servant and being a doormat? Does Jesus expect you to think of yourself as worthless?
  • Some say that marriage is a 50/50 proposition. Some say that it is more like 100/100. What does the heart of a servant say marriage is?
  • How does a servant heart affect your interaction with others when your flight is delayed after you have taxied onto the tarmac?
  • How does a servant heart affect your speech when someone cuts in front of you in the grocery checkout line?
  • How does the example of Jesus help you to teach your children to be servants of all?

By Katherine Harms, author of Oceans of Love available for Kindle at Amazon.com. Watch for the release of Thrive! Live Christian in a Hostile World, planned for release in the winter of 2016.

Image: Open Bible
Source:  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AOpen_Bible.jpg
By Wnorbutas (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0

 

A Hymn for Meditation

O Master, Let me Walk with Youhymnal 

O Master, let me walk with you
in lowly paths of service true;
teach me your secret, help me bear
the stress of toil, the strain of care.

Help me the slow of heart to move
by some clear winning word of love;
teach me the wayward feet to stay,
and guide them in the homeward way.

Teach me your patience; share with me
a closer, dearer company
in work that keeps faith sweet and strong, i
n trust that triumphs over wrong.

By Washington Gladden 

  • If you had to sum up this hymn in one sentence, what would you say?
  • Some people say that God wants you to dream big, because God wants your dreams to come true. What does this hymnwriter think God wants?
  • This prayer song does not sound much like wish fulfillment. What blessing (or blessings) does the hymnwriter want to receive?
  • What is the work of the Master? (see verse 2)
  • What words in the hymn describe the experiences of one who follows the Master, doing the work of the Master?
  • What words describe the rewards of doing the work of the Master?

A Hymn For Meditation

Take My Life and Let It Be          

Take my life, that I may be
Consecrated Lord, to thee.
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.

Take my hands and let them move
At the impulse of thy love;
Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for thee.

Take my voice and let me sing
Always, only, for my King.
Take my lips and let them be
Filled with messages from thee.

Take my love; my Lord, I pour
At thy feet its treasure store;
Take myself, and I will be
Ever, only, all for thee.

                   Frances Havergal

  • Life, time, body, talents, heart. What can we hold back from Jesus and use in a secular way?
  • We are busy people. How can we possibly let all our time be used to praise Christ?
  • The hardest possible thing is to speak only for Christ. What will you not say if you are speaking for Christ? When will you be silent, because of Christ, and when will you speak up, if Christ is behind all your words?
  • If you love Christ above all else, how does that change the way you spend your money? How does that change the way you rear your children? How does that change your attitude toward people who disagree with you?

A Hymn for Meditation

In Christ There is no East or West

In Christ there is no East or West,
In Him no South or North;

But one great fellowship of love
Throughout the whole wide earth.

In Him shall true hearts everywhere
Their high communion find;
His service is the golden cord,
Close binding humankind.

Join hands, then, members of the faith,
Whatever your race may be!

Who serves my Father as His child

Is surely kin to me.

In Christ now meet both East and West,
In Him meet North and South;
All Christly souls are one in Him

Throughout the whole wide earth.

                                    John Oxenham

  • If someone accuses you of being a bigot or being guilty of hatred and hate speech simply because you are a Christian, how will this hymn help you to answer respond with loving truth?
  • What must happen if the vision of the first verse of the hymn is to be realized?
  • What is the cord that this hymnwriter considers to be the bond that unites all people?
  • One day Jesus’ family tried to call him out of a crowd of followers, and his response was that he was already with his family. In verse 2, who does the hymnwriter identify as his family?
  • The news inspires fear. News images show warring factions doing real harm to one another. According to this hymn, what must happen to change that news? Where in the Bible did the hymnwriter find his ideas?

 

Christians Do Not “give back”

The public conversation in America commonly includes statements by people who announce that they want to “give back.” The first time I heard this phrase, I wasn’t sure what they meant. Now I understand that it is a way of saying that someone feels he (or she) owes the community or the country something. It is an admirable attitude to recognize blessings and obligations but I have found the phrase and the conversation troubling on several points.

Most of us feel blessed to live in our communities, and many of us feel blessed to live in the USA. Still, the phrase “give back” has come to sound a bit hollow, because the person who uses it really doesn’t say to whom or what he feels obligated and he doesn’t say why he feels obligated. Does it mean that he (or she) is giving something to community or government in return for something received? I think that is the point of it, but nobody is saying. The term also implies a transaction we need to examine. It points our attention to the person who says he will do the giving and invites us to come back and praise him if he actually does it. The phrase “give back” has no focal point except the speaker.

I feel much the same way about the phrase “give back” as I feel when the new liturgy directs the congregation to say, “It is right to give our thanks and praise.” To whom shall we give our thanks? To what? For what reason? The recipient of the thanks and praise ought to be named. (Here is where I confess that no matter what the printed liturgy says, I say, “It is right to give God thanks and praise.”) Likewise, when someone says that he is going to “give back” I really want to know what he will give and to whom and why.

If the motivation for giving back truly is a sense of obligation to community or to government, then that is one thing. If the reason for giving back is to give community and government thanks and praise, then I would disagree with the motivation. I guess my real quarrel is with the language. I certainly won’t quarrel with the behavior. Maybe I question the motives.

Christian teaching sends us in a different direction. At baptism, Christians receive the Holy Spirit, which is the Spirit of Truth, who teaches us that our blessings come from God, not from people or the government, and that good government is itself a blessing from God, ordained to be our servant, not our master. Christians, therefore, serve others as an act of grateful stewardship of God’s blessings, not as an act of payback to community or to government. We are taught to serve in a way that points to God, not to ourselves.

The central difference between a secular choice to “give back” and a Christian choice to serve, however, is this: A Christian truly cannot serve human objectives alone no matter what sort of service he engages in. A Christian is called to share the good news and make disciples no matter what he is doing. He lives as a testimony to God’s active blessing, and his work is a testimony to that blessing. He can no more fail to praise God in word and deed, even if the deed is digging a ditch, than he can stop breathing. As Henry Nouwen says, “One cannot be a little bit for Christ, give him some attention, or make him one of many concerns.”[1]

Ultimately, this discussion is about where our loyalties lie. If our first loyalty is to God, we are called to serve him and to serve people as Christ’s hands and feet in our community. There is no “payback” or “give back” involved, because there is no accounting. The credit for the good services and the outcome of those services goes to God, not to the people who serve.

It sounds harsh, but the truth is that when someone acts on the principle of “give back” that person is denying God. Christians who borrow the term for their own service to God should stop using it. When anyone says clearly or by implication that blessings come from anywhere but God he is rejecting God. Many people use the term as a substitute for saying “good works” or even “volunteer service.” Ultimately, however, to say that any act “gives back” to some human what was received from God, is wrong.

Here is what Jesus said about our service and our good works.

Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

 When Christians do anything good, when Christians serve their neighbors, or their country, or anybody at all, they serve with every intention of pointing people to God, not themselves. They do not “give back” to society or to the nation. They serve God Most High, Who in His infinite mercy sent Christ to die for the sins of the world. When Christians serve any person, they are serving Christ, and when they perform any service, it is the ultimate failure if their service inspires only reward for themselves.

Any Christian who lives his faith with any integrity is always a servant. He helps people and works for what is right in government and in the culture. He prays for people in need and gives them personal help as well. He wants prosperity, happiness, and peace for all people. He engages in grateful stewardship of God’s blessings and in faithful service to God and man. But he does not “give back.”

 

 

 

 

 


[1] Nouwen, Henry The Selfless Way of Christ, © 2007 by the estate of Henry Nouwen, (Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY 10545-0308)