As Christians, we are not called to be consumers or profiteers. We have been chosen to be servants of Jesus Christ called to serve others. It’s one thing to read and understand this, but to live it out and put it into practice is another matter altogether.
Jesus did not come to this earth as a king or a noble, as a rich man or a renowned CEO, as a hockey star or as a physically impressive man, or as the most popular boy at school. He came to us as a human being, fragile, poor and unknown.
Jesus, with his revolutionary command for masters to serve their slaves and for all people to love each other, provided us with a perfect example of service, serving as he did with humility, respect and joy. He served the weak as well as the strong, the unjust along with the just, the good and the wicked, all with love. He never let himself be overcome by pride, prejudice or fear; filled with the Holy Spirit, he simply served.
But what does it mean to serve? It means giving our time, energy, goods and our love to others. Service enables us to share a tiny fraction of God’s love, since to serve is to love, and to love is in the nature of God.
So let us not serve in the hope of being served. Let us not forget that there is more joy in giving than in receiving, and that this joy comes from our communion with God through service.
Today, wealth makes people forget that they are weak. I am not referring only to those with millions of dollars to their name, but also to those who have access to a roof, clothing, food and water. These things that are unimaginably valuable to some, but for others they have lost all value and may be summed up in one word: consumption.
But the security of the wealthy is illusory, and the rich and the poor each need help in their own way. For this reason, it is encouraging to note that there are Christians who serve Jesus Christ wholeheartedly, undeterred by time, obstacles or misfortune.
I myself have had the great privilege to serve in various ways by offering my time and energy to help others carry out their tasks.
The best part has been the opportunity to serve with my friends and family. This was the case during the 50th anniversary of the Mennonite Brethren Churches of Québec, when I worked with a devoted group of 13 youths from the Khmer church and Église évangélique de Saint-Eustache. Even our modest participation, consisting of simply pouring water at tables with a smile, was undeniably valuable to the event organizers.
Serving doesn’t have to mean working all day every day at a seniors centre, although should you be moved to do so, you would certainly be most welcome. Serving can be something as simple as listening to someone; calling a loved one;
playing with your little brother; emptying the dishwasher for your mother; sweeping for your wife; spending time with your children; participating in church activities such as the offering, communion, the worship group, the youth group or the welcoming committee; or simply praying for one another.
It is worth mentioning, however, that there are some risks to service. These include the danger of being exploited by others and the temptation to over-exert ourselves. We all have our limits, both physical and spiritual.
Saying yes to everything is not the best way to serve. We all have the right to rest, just as God rested on the Sabbath. We must not allow others to abuse our generosity. Some will want to take advantage of our marketable skills even if they have the means to pay full price for these services. Others will use pious rhetoric to make those who do not wish to be involved in service feel guilty.
Let us, therefore, pray for the Holy Spirit to enlighten these people, and to open our hearts so that we may be in the right place at the right time, prepared to serve with love.
God has given each of us unique and formidable gifts. Let us use them for the betterment of his kingdom. Let us pray for God to guide us in our service to all, so that through us all may see the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, whose love for us led him to serve.
Vincent Rodrigue is a young adult member of Église évangélique de Saint-Eustache, Que., and a participant in the Mennonite Central Committee Summerbridge program.