Bible Ballistics: Vol. 9 No.05 To Serve Or To Be Served???
We have created a “gimme” culture that seems to pervade every area of our lives, and I would like us to examine today the affect of this mindset on the church. It seems to me that we have morphed (Knowingly or unknowingly is irrelevant at this point!) into a ‘feed me’ culture within the church in America. While our culture is clamoring to be fed, clothed, educated, supported, driven, provided with not only the necessities of life, but also the luxuries of life we watch in amazement. I’m not talking about meeting the basic needs of those unable to fend for themselves, but the greed of a culture that has been taught and allowed to be sustained without any work or effort of their own. How does this transfer to the church, you might ask? Well, let’s try to answer that question. We seem to have adopted the way of the culture rather than the way of our Lord Jesus Christ.
“But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest. 35 And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them,
If any man desire to be first,
the same shall be last of all,
and servant of all.
36 And he took a child,
and set him in the midst of them:
and when he had taken him in his arms,
he said unto them,
37 Whosoever shall receive one of such
children in my name,
and whosoever shall receive me,
receiveth not me,
but him that sent me.” Mark 9:35-37
Jesus own disciples had “disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest”, and like all of us, they were just acting ‘human’. But, Jesus called them to march to a different drummer. He taught them that “If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all”, and we must take this to heart. In a culture of ‘mega-churches’ and ‘mega-famous’ preachers and teachers, we must come back to the teachings of our Lord—“servant of all”. A most neglected teaching in the day of the “prosperity” gospel. Jesus called us to serve one another and the world, not to strive to be served (or to prosper monetarily at the expense of the Truth!).
We have allowed this “self” mindset to creep into our churches where everyone wants to have their own kind of music, seats, air-conditioning, preaching, and every group has their own church—the short people’s church, the tall people’s church, the white collar church, the blue collar church, the western church, the high-society church, the people who reject God church (yes even that!) —You name it and there probably is one, if not in my town or yours, in some town or metropolis you’ll find one. People, we have missed the point. We are to be striving to be servants to one another not spoiled children striving to please ourselves and insisting on our own way. We seem to have forgotten that we are called to follow Jesus, and to call others to come along and follow Him “with” us. Instead we seem to have created this mindset and culture that says follow “me”, and my ways, my likes, my dislikes, my this and my that; we seem to have completely forgotten the call of our Lord.
“Then said Jesus unto his disciples,
If any man will come after me,
let him deny himself,
and take up his cross,
and follow me.
25 For whosoever will save his life
shall lose it:
and whosoever will lose his life
for my sake
shall find it.
26 For what is a man profited,
if he shall gain the whole world,
and lose his own soul?
or what shall a man give
in exchange for his soul?
27 For the Son of man shall come
in the glory of his Father
with his angels;
and then he shall reward
according to his works.” Matthew 16:24-27
Let’s look at a couple of specific things here. Jesus has been telling his disciples that His crucifixion and death was at hand, and they just didn’t understand how He, the Messiah, could face death. They were counting on HIM to deliver them physically as well as spiritually, how could they follow Him if this were true. Jesus says something quite radical—He told them that they were to follow HIM with a cross. And that call, my friends, has never changed. Jesus calls us to do the same. He said clearly, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” We are to be busy following Jesus, making disciple of Jesus NOT of ourselves, of our preferences in worship style, or culture specific churches! We are to be following Jesus. Now please don’t misunderstand, I know that God calls people to minister to specific groups of people; to minister to language groups, different culture groups and that’s all well and good, but oft-times people want to segregate God’s people according to their likes and dislikes of various forms, creating the self-seeking church rather than the Christ-following church. May God have mercy on our foolishness?
Jesus gives us more of the same teaching after James and John applied for “leadership positions/promotions”!
“And he said unto them, What would ye that I should do for you? 37 They said unto him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory. 38 But Jesus said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? 39 And they said unto him, We can. And Jesus said unto them, Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized: 40 But to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared.
41 And when the ten heard it,
they began to be much displeased
with James and John.
42 But Jesus
called them to him,
and saith unto them,
Ye know that they which are accounted to rule
over the Gentiles
and their great ones exercise authority
43 But so shall it not be among you:
will be great among you,
shall be your minister:
44 And whosoever of you
will be the chiefest,
shall be servant of all.
45 For even the Son of man
came not to be ministered unto,
but to minister,
and to give his life
a ransom for many.” Mark 10:36-45
Jesus came to serve and we must not set ourselves up as those who would “lord” it over others, but to follow His servant heart and example. Yes, Jesus established leadership in the church but we are called to be servants of one another. Even the leaders, the preachers and the teachers are called to be servant leaders.
“The elders which are among you I exhort,
who am also an elder,
and a witness of the sufferings of Christ,
and also a partaker of the glory
that shall be revealed:
2 Feed the flock of God
which is among you,
taking the oversight thereof,
not by constraint,
not for filthy lucre,
but of a ready mind;
3 Neither as being lords over God’s heritage,
but being examples to the flock.
4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear,
ye shall receive a crown of glory
that fadeth not away.
5 Likewise, ye younger,
submit yourselves unto the elder.
Yea, all of you be subject one to another,
and be clothed with humility:
for God resisteth the proud,
and giveth grace to the humble.
6 Humble yourselves therefore
under the mighty hand of God,
that he may exalt you
in due time:
7 Casting all your care upon him;
for he careth for you.” 1 Peter 5:1-7
Did you get it? None of us are to be “lords over God’s heritage”, but we are each called to submit ourselves unto God, respect the elders, learn from the teachers and preachers whom God has called and placed in our midst. And the leaders, teachers and preachers are to lead not only with their words, “but being examples to the flock”, they are to walk together with us as we all serve and follow Jesus rather than seeking those who can meet our needs in serving us!!! Oh may God help us to return to His Word and seek to please Him and not just join in with the ‘majority’ that is usually wrong. Now let me qualify this by saying I am not talking about those who say our job as the congregation is to ‘keep the preacher humble, by keeping him poor’! That isn’t biblical either.
“Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. 18 For the scripture saith, thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.” 1 Timothy 5:17-18
We are to care for those who serve in places of ministry with honor, gratitude, and generosity. We who are blessed, should bless those who give forth the Word of God in whatever manner God has called them to serve. Ouch!! UhOh! Now we’ve gone to meddling when we talk about ‘money’, but God has called us to take care of those who He has called and sent to minister the Gospel in various ways, especially those who are in full-time service. You wouldn’t go eat at a restaurant and expect to leave without paying (Not that I’m saying that preachers and/or teachers are just putting out a buffet meal—but we are to appreciate and show our gratitude to those who minister the word to us. And as the little boy asked his father as they left a restaurant, “Why do we tip 15% and God only asks for 10%?”) So why would any person expect to be fed, ministered to, encouraged and cared for by a pastor who loves them, and not want to help meet his physical needs? But on the other hand we are to be aware of those who have sinister motives and do things just for the money. It is a balance that only God can help us achieve!
“But this I say, He which soweth sparingly
shall reap also sparingly;
and he which soweth bountifully
shall reap also bountifully.
7 Every man
according as he purposeth
in his heart,
so let him give;
or of necessity:
for God loveth a cheerful giver.
8 And God is able
to make all grace abound toward you;
always having all sufficiency
in all things,
may abound to every good work:” 2 Corinthians 9:6-8
Can you see how following Jesus means caring for one another and being the servant of all? Sharing in the work of the Lord in whatever way He has gifted us—whether it is in a speaking gift or a service gift. We are to work together as servants of the King of Kings!!
“As every man hath received the gift,
even so minister the same
one to another,
as good stewards
of the manifold grace of God.
11 If any man speak,
let him speak as the oracles of God;
if any man minister,
let him do it as of the ability
which God giveth:
that God in all things
may be glorified
through Jesus Christ,
to whom be praise
for ever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 4:10-11
And in closing, one of the most beautiful passages on servant-hood in all of scripture. May you ponder and think on these words as you go through your day, your week, your year—your life. What a great passage to memorize and put in your heart and mind, to keep close.
“Let this mind be in you,
which was also in Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in the form of God,
thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
7 But made himself of no reputation,
and took upon him the form of a servant,
and was made in the likeness of men:
8 And being found in fashion as a man,
he humbled himself,
and became obedient unto death,
even the death of the cross.
9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him,
and given him a name
which is above every name:
10 That at the name of Jesus
every knee should bow,
of things in heaven,
and things in earth,
and things under the earth;
11 And that every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:5-11
And just a word of caution, even a servant heart has to be careful about how we are serving, and whom. Who and what have you chosen?
“And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: 42 But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42