Christians, myself included, regularly use words and phrases like church, service, follower of Jesus Christ, shepherd, humility, community and surrender. Yet, the words, phrases and values that actually animate our (my) behavior are very different. I observe, and am challenged by, a disconnect between the way we typically do church and the way that Jesus lived and served and gave his life.
“Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” Romans 12:4-5
Perhaps the term “church service” would take on a new meaning as that which we daily live and do (like a verb phrase) instead of a weekly event that we simply attend (the noun).
“We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s (or woman’s) gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage, if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently.” Romans 12:6-8 (Parenthetical addition mine.)
How would the world be different if thousands of people attended Servanthood Summits in addition to Leadership Conferences? Does anyone publish a Servanthood Journal? Would anyone read it?
“Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:26-28
What would it communicate if First Baptist/Presbyterian/Methodist churches renamed themselves Last Baptist/Presbyterian/Methodist churches?
“But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.” Matthew 19:30
Did Jesus say to “go and create institutions, raise funds, develop budgets, hire staff and build buildings” or to “go and make disciples?”
If I’m honest, I don’t like to be treated as a servant, certainly not a slave. I don’t like to be last. Most of you don’t either. Sitting passively in a church service is much less risky than employing the verb phrase of church service. It’s far easier to work on quantitative plans and programs than it is to invest oneself in making disciples.
Jesus lived a selfless life of humility, obedience and service all the way to his sacrificial death. This is the way he overcame the world.
Will we overcome by any different means?