What is True Service?
Here is a devotional I wrote for our church’s Lenten Devotional on what true service is really about:
Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.”
“What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.
They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.”
“You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?”
“We can,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.”
When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.“
We are immersed in a fame-based culture. People will do anything to see see their names in the paper or get their 5 minutes of fame on television. Reality shows fill up the lineups of most television networks. Our worth is based on how many friends we have on Facebook.
Jesus’ disciples were no different than us. They were competing for the top spots next to Jesus in heaven. Once again Jesus turns the systems of the world on end and says that greatness is not based on social position or who wins, but on who is a servant.
Service in our culture has been watered down. Service is not serving food at a food kitchen or tutoring a child. Those things are good but the service that Jesus is talking about is much deeper. Jesus says that his service was giving his life as a “ransom for many.” His sacrificial death was his service.
Most of Jesus’ disciples went on to live the sacrificial life of a true servant. Christian tradition tells us that most of Jesus’ disciples were martyrs for the faith.
In this context of service, what does it mean for us to serve in Champaign-Urbana? How is our service sacrificial? I dare you to ask Jesus to show you what true service is all about and then walk in that direction.