This month we are looking at some of the values we hold dear in Woodlands Group of Churches: the values of being part of sunday church, giving, and belonging. Today we are looking at serving. We often shy away from articulating ‘expectations’, even the word can seem a bit heavy. But the reality is, each of these values has the potential to be either a restrictive rule or a liberating reality.
Words for the week
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus replied, “You do not realise now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.
An inconvenient truth
On the night before his death Jesus washed the disciples’ feet. It was a customary practice in middle eastern countries where dust got just about everywhere, and must have felt pretty good, if you like that sort of thing! But Peter had a problem with it. Surely it demeaned Jesus to be taking the role of a servant, kneeling there with a bowl and towel at the ready? Most of us would instinctively agree, we are comfortable with our pecking orders!
John writes that Jesus ‘knew he had come from God and was returning to Him’ so he knelt down to wash their feet. His behaviour challenges the disciples: are you secure enough to serve? The fact that we are called by Jesus into a life of service, to God and the world is the inconvenient truth of our sometimes self absorbed age. God loves it when we serve one another, and reserves his greatest blessings for those who unlock the secrets of service in the kingdom.
“Unless I wash you, you have no part with me” Jesus states bluntly to the protesting Peter,
‘‘I am among you as one who serves” (Luke 22:7).
Who are you serving?
Christians of course can serve in many ways outside of church organisations through giving and volunteering, but in a beautiful and profound way, the church is a family that serves each other too. ‘As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace… ’ wrote Peter to the fledgling churches of Asia Minor (1 Peter 4:10).
Serving one another enables us to model a joyous freedom from fear and self preservation, the embodiment of Jesus radical advice: ‘if you want to save your life, you need to be prepared to lose it.’ Because of Jesus we have free access to heaven’s resources, so that we can serve generously, sacrificially, joyfully and supernaturally.
“Rank is given you to enable you to better serve those above and below you. It is not given for you to practice your idiosyncrasies”
General Bruce C. Clarke 1901
As the Apostle Paul mentored the first century believers he explained to them that even the most public ministry roles were a gift of service to the body of the church; they were not about self promotion or self expression but were to equip the members of the church to serve and build each other up. Incredibly, the goal of all this service, Paul tells them, is so that the church matures towards attaining the ‘whole measure of the fulness of Christ’.
This is what the world needs to see and experience. I think Paul would encourage those of us who call Woodies ‘our church’ to press on towards that maturity by learning to serve each other as Jesus serves us, so that a broken world can experience the ‘fullness of Christ on the earth’.
“Rule with the heart of a servant. Serve with the heart of a king.”
Own it personally
If you are part of a woodlands (or other church) congregation how are you being served by
- Stop for a moment to give thanks to God and pray for those who are serving you.
- What gifts do you feel you have that help you to serve others?
- Make a list of everything you can think of, from the least to the greatest!
Do you serve anywhere within the church?
- If not, where are the possible places that you could serve?
- What roles could you volunteer for?
- What would you love to do?
- Get started today?
- Take a look a the volunteering section on the Woodies website and get in touch!
Do you know your spiritual and motivational gifts? Why not do a test?
Speak it out, pray and prophesy
I am no longer my own but yours.
Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will;
put me to doing, put me to suffering;
let me be employed for you, or laid aside for you,
exalted for you, or brought low for you;
let me be full, let me be empty,
let me have all things, let me have nothing:
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things
to your pleasure and disposal.
And now, glorious and blessèd God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
you are mine and I am yours.
And the covenant now made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven.
The Methodist Covenant Prayer