CORE VALUE 4 | SERVICE
Prayer for Perspective
A prayer for you:
In our own heads, O Lord, life can be complicated. Give us focus and clarity to see through the noise and to see beyond ourselves.
Our relationships with others, O Lord, can be complicated. Give us patience and wisdom to navigate our interactions and connections with a sense of purpose that goes beyond the immediate.
Our place in society, O Lord, can be complicated. Give us experiences and insight into how we fit into the world and into the ways our callings make the world work. Teach us to think in past, present, and future.
We will never see the big picture the way you do, O Lord, and we wouldn’t be able to handle it if we could. Instead, we pray that you’d give us the perspective we need as we navigate the time from our beginning to our end, from our first day to our last. Teach us to count the days and to make them count. Amen.
A prayer from you:
You hold all of time and space in your hands,
and you are never flustered.
We are not like you.
We are busy,
we are distracted,
we become confused,
we become doubtful,
we grow calloused,
we grow cynical.
In all of these,
we travel further from the way you’ve called us to be.
We hope to fix it,
we try to get better,
and we wish for perspective and balance;
but for now, in this moment,
we are sorry.
Forgive our limitations,
have mercy on our frustrations,
and wash away our attempts to hide behind them.
Continue to love us as if we were as good
as your true Son, Jesus,
by whose sacrifice we are part of your family
and your great story
of love and purpose.
THESIS & SUPPORT
Serve until it hurts. In the hierarchy of God’s kingdom, the more people you serve, the higher you are.
The "end" of the discipleship cycle and the product of Christian maturity is selflessness - not because Christian's are trying to become righteous through selfless acts but because Christ living through us naturally produces selflessness.
Is selflessness the truest form of self-awareness/self-actualization? Can it be?
Status in God's kingdom cannot be based on title or on responsibility. It is based on mindset.
Can you think of any people, biblical or not, that prove this?
To keep the logic of the thesis statement going: the higher you are, the more it hurts.
How can this be true despite what is a natural and human aversion to pain? How can your worldview explain this?
The ultimate act of service is the promotion of the Gospel in all of its facets (not simply the story of Jesus but the truth of God's unconditional grace.) All true acts of service have as their end goal the promotion of the Gospel.
This statement has everything to do with the idea of “agenda.” In what ways can an agenda in service be abused, and in what ways is it valuable? Where’s the “safe middle” here?
In the hierarchy of God's kingdom, no one will ever be higher than Christ, the suffering servant of all.
How will keeping this in mind help us as the local congregation grows?
Ephesians 4:11-16 | 11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 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.
14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
Why did Christ give some to be in various roles?
What does Christian maturity really look like?
James 1:27 | Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
This is a very strong statement. Knowing what you know about Law & Gospel, how can this verse be understood wrongly?
What does keeping “oneself from being polluted by the world” look like…and what does it not look like?
Matthew 6:1-4 | “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
How do we do this as an organization?
How will the Father reward you?
Matthew 20:25-28 | “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—28 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.”
This is the hierarchy verse. How is Christianity a race to the bottom?
How does this affect the way we use church money?
It can be difficult – very difficult – to keep a proper perspective toward service work in a local congregation. The devil, the world, and the sinful nature all want to take good acts of service and wreck them through poor motivations and evil intent.
Good, godly motivation for service work in and by the local congregation always starts with the Gospel – which is the ultimate version of serving “until it hurts.” What Christ did for the world on the cross has ramifications that reach much further than simply the forgiveness of sins – it is the greatest good imaginable and it is the fountain from which all good things that can be done must flow.
That being said, the good accomplishment of Jesus on the cross does not mean that there’s a chance at creating a utopian paradise on earth. Not even close. Earth sucks, and it will until the last day. Every moment that is spent pursuing a paradise on earth is a wasted moment. For this reason, serving until it hurts has real merit because it is grounded in the reality that hurt is reality and, in a backwards way, part of the attainable ideal. When we realize that life on earth brings pain, we can rest assured that we are not falling into the temptation to make our own little paradises.
To this thought, it’s worth noting that service at Illumine keeps that perspective in not only the individual, but also the congregation at large. Being bent on serving until it hurts keeps an outward focus and helps the congregation avoid any dangerous “country club” thinking. This kind of thinking leads to competition, greed, jealousy, and a loss of focus on the purpose of the church.
To help Christians, Jesus reiterated the “hierarchy of God's kingdom” concept several times. It isn't wrong to want to be higher. It is wrong to think that being higher is being over people. It's being under them and lifting them up, with Jesus as the ultimate load bearer of us all.
Under his example, Jesus has made everyone able to serve, especially in ways that do not require much of you. This core value leads us to seek ways that you can serve that are substantial and crucial and that challenge you. Let someone who is less mature than you are work on emptying the garbage cans while you help counsel a stranger who just had a miscarriage.
In fact, the more uncomfortable (or outside of your comfort zone) service is, the more you benefit from it. (This is not true 100% of the time, for example, if someone chooses a way to serve for which they are unqualified or that falls very far from their vocations in life. But that’s a stewardship issue, not a service issue.) This corresponds with the fact that the primary reason to engage in community service is not for your own benefit. It is for the benefit of others.
"Let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven" says basically nothing about what you get, but the ways that the results benefit you are pretty clear.
On a congregational level, this still applies. Let it never be the case that the congregation engages in community service for its own benefit – that’s not community service, it’s self-service. Instead, let the congregation selflessly sacrifice for the good of the community as Christ has called it to do, and let the rest fall as the Lord allows.