“Serving others,” is a phrase that, depending on your background, can bring a variety of things to mind; some of which, you don’t enjoy. I am going to urge you to put aside what you think regarding what it is like to serve others for a bit before deciding that you know what I am going to ask of you.
Your past church experiences might have defined “serving others” for you as something like, “let’s pack some meals, wash some cars, paint a house.” Acts of service like that are indeed needed and powerful, however, they are common because it is easy to quantify those actions. Those actions are tangible ways of “serving others.” 100 families fed. 25 cars washed, 300 sq ft of walls painted. The largest issue I have with them is that they require little thought in emotional or spiritual matters. They are all physical affairs, in a physical force. Someone else has done the thinking and the praying for you.
I would like to have us go back to a place where serving others is first, an intellectual and spiritual endeavor, second, a physical act of service.
Here is the difference: An atheist can pack meals, wash cars and paint walls. And many do. What do you have that is different? Christ in you, the Hope of Glory. (Col 1:27)
We are called by God to love Him and to love others. But what does that look like? In the past it has been about moving to a place and time, in a group, doing a thing. I believe that God is calling us to a higher place when we “serve others.”
Think about these words:
Spiritual transformation is the process by which Christ is formed in us …for the glory of God, for the abundance of our own lives, and for the sake of others.
Ruth Haley Barton
As part of Abel House, our calling is to be formed by Christ for the benefit of others. The temptation, as we develop our relations with each other, is to ignore those around us. To overlook people that aren’t like us. To walk past those that need our help. Not intentionally, mind you. It will happen because of our sinful nature. That nature is going to want us to serve ourselves as we build our relationships with each other. We aren’t called to serve ourselves, but to serve others.
And when do we do help, it is our job to serve them. To pray with them and for them. To inquire, to listen and to care; I mean really care. To cry with them. Laugh with them and to grieve with them. (Romans 12)
Serving others does in fact, look like packing meals, washing cars and painting walls. It is also so much more than that.