At some point a mature disciple must transition from being served to serving.
Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
If you’re like any average person, your favorite person to serve in the whole wide world is….yourself. J
We, as humans, have never been much for helping others. Even from the beginning.
Even my 8-month old twins…only want the toy their twin is playing with.
In elementary school, when your parents tell you that you need to do your brother’s chores cuz he’s sick, we groan
In middle school, your youth group plans a night to go hang out with the elderly at a nursing home…and everyone groaned.
Despite what we may have said on our college applications, deep down inside a lot of us hate serving other people.
Yet, how do we reconcile this with being disciples of Jesus?
A disciple is simply someone who follows someone’s teachings and tries to be like them.
And it only takes about 5 minutes to start reading through the Bible and go, “UH OH…this Jesus guy served others a lot. Like a ton.”
And if a disciple is supposed to be like Him…then…uh…um…maybe I’m supposed to serve?”
A lot of people just honestly ignore it.
I don’t know how…but they do.
This is one of the reasons we’re doing this series, DiscipleSHIFT…where we’re positing the belief that there needs to be a SHIFT in how we see the process of becoming a disciple…discipleship.
It can’t just be about learning the Bible.
It can’t just be about going on walks and watching sunsets with Jesus while listening to Kari Jobe
(PUT UP TOPIC SLIDE where it points to the “hands”)
Becoming a disciple, a follower, of Jesus must be a well-rounded thing.
We must be disciples of the head (learning about God & the Bible)
Of the heart….where we become like Jesus in the core of who we are
Of the hands…where we serve like Jesus
And of the feet (which we’ll talk about next week) where we bring the good news of Jesus to others.
THE IDEA OF SERVING OTHERS FOR THE SAKE OF OTHERS IS FOREIGN
But most of us…despite the example of Jesus…aren’t really disciples of Jesus in the “hands category.”
In fact, in the average church, studies show that only around 1 out of 4 American Christians serve others on a regular basis.
And those numbers won’t get any higher next week when we talk sharing the good news of Jesus w/ others.
The first two parts of discipleship, (the head and the heart)…those are the inputs…where we let God in.
But for a lot of us…it gets stopped there.
We never get to the outputs…to the hands and feet.
In our American obsession with the self…we let God into our minds and into our hearts…and then we try and trap Him in there and keep Him all to ourselves.
And we don’t really see a reason to serve…because our spiritual life is about us.
It’s about us improving as a person…and becoming a better person or parent or spouse.
“And it’s easier for us think like that in the isolated American Christianity that we live in.
See, if you’re just a face in the crowd at church, I mean, what does your faith even have to do with other people?
So a lot of us don’t serve at all (3 out of 4 in fact).
And even when people do serve…often it’s for the wrong reasons…and out of the wrong motives.
Many serve just because they feel guilted to.
And I hope that’s not what you feel today. If you do, I’ve failed.
I hope you see the REASONING behind this all…but don’t respond out of guilt.
Change from guilt…is ALWAYS fleeting.
Other people serve only to make themselves feel good.
Many go serve at the soup kitchen on Thanksgiving because it’s a heartwarming thing (for THEM) to do internally.
And although it’s certainly better than NOT going, it’s often obvious that the MOTIVE is driven by a feeling “the self” gets out of it.
If the motive was pure…if the motive was about others…we’d serve more than once a year, correct?
Sometimes we serve, just because it’ll help us out.
That’s how I did it in high school before I was a Christian.
Serving was merely an important part of building my application for college.
I was a part of the national honor society, so I had to do service events, but for me, they might as well have called it the national dishonor society, because I was only using others for my own advancement.
WE SERVE BECAUSE HE SERVED
Yet, this is not at all how Jesus talks about serving…OR…lives it out.
Look at John 13 with me.
(John 13:3-9) - NIV
3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” 7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” 8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” 9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
One of the greatest things the Bible gives us is a different reason, a different ethic for serving.
We don’t just serve on some moralist agenda.
We don’t serve because “it’s good” and “we should” and “it’ll make us a better person” and the “world will be a happier place” and “we can hold hands and kum-bay-ya”
We serve because He served us.
Jesus our greatest example… served us.
(Mark 10:44-45) – NIV
44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 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 serve because He served us. Even with His life.
And we want to be like Him.
And what we find when we imitate Jesus in this way, is serving in the darkest and even dirtiest places is often where we meet God.
I just heard yet another story (this wasn’t the 1st person I’ve read of) about a person who was a skeptic of God, but years ago went to interview Mother Theresa as she ministered to the dying in Calcutta, and there became a believer in God.
There in the dark. In the dirt. With the homeless dying.
As Americans, we tend to think that we’ll find God, in a powerful worship experience tailored just for us with our favorite songs…and lots of cool lights.
But you might more easily find God ministering to others rather than just trying to build up yourself
Let me show you what I mean…I want to show you a 60 second video of finding God in the dirt. This is from one of Haiti Teams. Jared Hibma narrating.
(Show Haiti foot washing video)
You can see it when you watch that video…I can feel it…especially as a father…you can feel God…and I can guarantee those people felt God moving through them.
And that’s part of being a disciple…getting out there with our HANDS…and letting Him work through us.
But it’s counter-intuitive.
If I just asked 100 random people on the street would you rather watch your favorite movie or wash someone else’s dirty feet?
What are they going to say?
But when you take steps to push yourself forward to actually serving other people…it’s so deeply powerful.
“It has so much more of God in it than us just looking for yet another new and novel way to satisfy our own appetites
And it’s so deeply powerful BECAUSE by serving others, you’re imitating Jesus.
You’re BEING a disciple.
You’re serving like HE SERVED
You’re doing exactly what He created you for.
See, despite what the world says, you weren’t created to just love yourself.
Whitney Houston lied to you, “Learning to love yourself is NOT the Greatest Love of all.”
It’s a distant third.
(Mark 12:30-31) - NIV
30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
And that’s the flow of this series…we let God in (the head…the heart), and then we let Him out (hands & feet).
We are a people being changed by God…TO…change the world.
And THEREFORE, SERVING MUST BE A NATURAL PROGRESSION OF DISCIPLESHIP
And if this is all true, then serving other people must be a natural progression of discipleship.
The more we get the good news of Jesus in our minds and our hearts, the more we will naturally serve other people.
But listen, you can not consider yourself spiritually mature, if you know God and that’s not translating into serving other people.
And that why I think this DiscipleSHIFT concept is so important.
It builds a framework for us that says…discipleship…is following Jesus with the whole self.
You can’t say you’re a mature disciple of Jesus if you just know the Bible and never serve anyone…just like someone couldn’t say that they’re a healthy person if they have huge biceps but eat ice cream 3 meals a day
For too long, Christians have been lying to themselves (so we don’t have to deal w/ our shortcomings) about what a disciple really looks like.
And if you don’t agree with me about this model yet, let me show you how crazy an idea it is to call yourself a mature Christian and not serve.
Imagine it’s 2,000 years ago…and you’re walking along the sea of Galilee.
Some compelling guy named Jesus walks up to you and says, “Hey, 13 is the new 12. I’m wondering if you would like to be my 13th disciple...’Come and follow me!’”
You say to yourself, “Why not…and you start following along with the other disciples”
At first you’re loving it.
This Jesus character seems very nice. It seems like He really loves you…and of course you love that.
And…wow…is He brilliant or what?!?
You are loving his teachings.
You’re always in the front row, taking meticulous notes on your iScroll.
But then, after a while, Jesus starts asking you to do stuff:
He says, “Hey, 13th disciple, would you mind carrying that paralyzed man over to me, I’d like to heal Him.”
And you respond…”Nah…I’m kind of busy. Jesus, would you mind telling me another parable though why we wait for someone else to bring him over.”
The next day, Jesus says, “Hey, 13th disciple, would you go grab some bread and fish…I’d like to multiply it to feed 5,000 or so people”
And you respond, “Now, I’d like to…but…I don’t really like the smell of fish…so why don’t you have Peter do it”
“But why don’t you say some more things about the ways you love me while we wait for Peter!”
The whole thing is preposterous, right?
When you actually read about the disciples who followed Christ, they served God and they served people in need ALL the time.
It’s an essential and BASIC part of being a disciple
It’s simply Biblically incompatible to be a growing disciple of Christ and not serve others.
And yet American Christians live in that contradiction all the time.
We fool ourselves.
We look at all the things we’re learning and our prayer time and our participation in house groups, and we go, “WOW! Man, am I a disciple!”
But this is why we have to look at the actual disciples.
And we see, that a well-rounded disciple SERVES.
They’re a disciple of the hands
At some point as a Christian you have to transition from being served to serving.
It’s a natural progression as a disciple.
(Galatians 5:13-14) – NIV
13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
The fact that we know Jesus isn’t meant just to benefit ourselves…but others.
But why is this SO difficult for us as American Christians.
In concept, it seems easy enough.
“A lot of it is just due to our selfish and consumeristic culture where every commercial you see…every inspirational speech you hear…most of what you experience is about how this product or this change will make YOU happier.
Some of this is due to the evil and selfishness that reigns in our hearts like we talked about last week.
But I think the American church of the last 30 years is also to blame.
We’re reaping what we’ve sown.
The American church has worked so hard to customize and consumerize church (with its lights and videos and packaged series) just for YOU…that it’s no surprise that you think it’s about you.
But it’s not about us. And if the church only exists to serve us and make us happy…then the church will die with us.
But when you read the Bible…it looks NOTHING like that
Jesus came to serve, and so should we
(John 13:14-15) – NIV
14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.
Pretty obvious. Pretty simple.
Or look at what Paul says our intentions should be
(Philippians 2:3-4) – NIV
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
And by the way, if you read the context of the chapter, Paul says that we ought to put others above ourselves, because that’s what Jesus did when he came from heaven to this dirty globe of an earth to die in our place.
So true disciples come not asking the question, “What am I going to get out of this today…” but how can I serve?
And where else can I serve my community? What can I do to be like Jesus?
This Jesus who served so often.
YOU ARE CALLED AND GIFTED
And it’s not just that we as disciples should imitate our discipler, Jesus, and serve…
It’s that if you are a Christian, and the Holy Spirit therefore lives within you, God has actually spiritually gifted you for the express purpose of serving.
Are you familiar with spiritual gifts?
There are multiple places in the Bible (such as 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, and Romans 12) that list “gifts” that God gives believers.
Gifts like: Wisdom, faith, teaching, encouragement, generosity, even miraculous gifts
And my experience with American Christians is they love to take online tests and find out which gift they have.
“OOO…what did you get….Leadership wow! Yeah, I just got mercy…bummer.”
And it’s like our only interest in them is so that we can find out what we are and then brag to others how God gifted us.
But think about it: The very purpose of any gift that God has deposited in you is so that you can use it to serve others.
What’s the point of the gift of hospitality? So you can clean your house to enter into a “cleanest house competition?”
What’s the point of the gift of teaching? Or giving?
Are you going to give to yourself? Transfer some money from your checking to your savings and call it Godly?
(1 Peter 4:10) – NIV
10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
God has called you to be his disciple for a PURPOSE…not just to make you feel happier.
Yet, we forsake that purpose all the time…and seek our own happiness instead.
I can’t tell you how often in my 10 years of ministry I hear people say stuff like, “Yeah, I used to serve on that team…or at that place…(or even be in a house group), but I’m taking a break this year
I have a lot going on.
But I don’t think anyone ever stops to think through what they’re saying.
What they’re saying is: “Life is hard/busy/difficult right now…so I need to just focus on me” (rather than serving others)
But that’s counter-productive spiritually.
You’re never going to grow to be more like Jesus by just “focusing on you”
I always want to ask people when they step back from serving others (or even groups), so you’re going to stop serving once a month for 20 minutes because you’re too busy…
Are you going to stop checking facebook for 20 minutes…a day?
Or watching TV for two hours a day?
TO just focus on you?
And of course we don’t.
In a confused manner, we try and fix the stress and brokenness of our lives by turning inward.
But Biblically, it’s fixed by turning upward AND outward.
If you’re going through a tough patch…or a dry patch…or an insanely busy patch…that’s the last time you should pull out of serving others or being w/ others
Because serving will keep you out of spiraling ever inward…which is never a good thing.
Nothing kills the draw of our selfishness and sin like service.
See, left to just ourselves…we care just about ourselves…and our own advancement and development and accomplishments.
But serving is the opposite.
When we serve others, like Christ did, we’re crucifying our sinful desires.
Service actually teaches you to get masterly over your pride, your arrogance, your selfishness.
But you can not learn that in isolation
And thus, you’ll see some radical growth as a disciple when you start to serve others.
Because every time you serve, it’s a rare opportunity to do something that doesn’t just directly benefit you
You’re not getting paid.
You’re probably not getting recognized.
And on and on.
LADDER OF SERVING
And you don’t have to go to a homeless shelter to serve like a disciple of Christ.
In fact, I want to make this as practical as possible…so let’s cover all sorts of ways that we each can take steps forward here…
Because the more we walk this out…the more we’ll see change in our own hearts…and then change in the world.
It can start with just serving your spouse…or if you’re not married…a roommate…or close friend.
Let me ask you: Would you say that you serve the person you live with?
Are you the type of person that only does the dishes when it’s your turn?
Or you only do the dishes if you think you’d maybe get something back in return for doing the dishes?
Start serving at home first. Honestly, in the long run, it’s the hidden, daily acts of service that conform us to be more like Christ than the things we do in public anyway.
If you have kids…serve your kids.
I don’t mean spoil your kids. Or do everything for them.
But serve them with your time. With your time to help with homework. With your time to just hang out and have a tea party…even if you’re not into dolls and tea parties.
Serve them with your attention. Put down your phone for the night…and serve them.
I’ve been saying this to myself if my kids wake up at hours of the night that NO ONE should wake up.
I’ve just been saying, “God, help me serve my kids. It’s not about me or my schedule. It’s not about my idolatry of sleep. I’m here to serve”
And I think God’s making me into a better servant because of it.
And again, that’s the stuff that really builds you.
No one sees that…it’s in secret..
Or it was. J
Serve your neighbors.
Be in your front yard. Rake leaves with them. Put their garbage in. Bake them a pumpkin pie. Do some handy work for them. Serve them. Be the face of Christ for them.
Serve people at work.
If you know no one wants to sign up for that task or project…what if you took it?
“But…but…then I won’t get promoted!”
Live like your first mission is being a witness of Christ, not making more money for a down payment on a boat.
Serve the church.
I think this is key. It takes 65 volunteers every Sunday to put on our services. 85 if you count house groups throughout the week.
We are changing the world here at Renovation through that massive number. People are really growing in God.
People are meeting Jesus for the first time. Almost 50 of them just this year alone.
But none of that happens unless people are serving! People are greeting people trying church for the first time at the door.
Unless we’re loving their kids in Children’s ministry.
If people didn’t get here at 7am to put out chairs and set this up…it would never happen.
And I want you…as a disciple of Christ to be a part of this amazing, world-changing team.
In fact, pick-up those sheets that were on your chair when you came in.
There are 11 different ways you can serve here on a Sunday.
My challenge to you is to read them over and then sign-up for one on the back of your connection card (at the bottom of your bulletin) TODAY
Many of you in your mind just went to your “go-to excuse”
“Oh geez, Pastor David, but I’m real busy”
Well, then be an usher, you can do it while you’re here during the middle of the service…so, unless you’re planning on quitting church, you don’t have an excuse for that one
In all seriousness, the commitment for most of these is less in a month than we watch of TV in a day.
“Oh geez, Pastor David…I’m not ready for this”
You are. It’s a great way to get outside of yourself. Meet some people…and serve.
If you just wait till you’re ready, you’ll never do it.
IN fact, you’re only really going to grow until you start serving, and the process of getting you outside of yourself, propels you to grow!
You’re going to grow if you join our prayer team…and start praying for OTHERS rather than yourself.
You’re going to grow if you join our tear-down team, and take this stuff down when no one’s looking.
It’s an INTEGRAL part of discipleship.
It teaches us the world is bigger than us.
But let me say something bold and crazy to you…maybe this’ll even make you mad
But I think to not serve is a little philosophically silly.
To not serve, you must also admit that you have some sort of amnesia.
Or an unwillingness to remember how you got here.
Because the only reason you’re here today and growing spiritually today is because of 65 other people.
Be a part of that. Be a part of something bigger than yourself.
Don’t just watch the movement here…be a part of it.
Many of you are new here, and if you’re just checking us still, that’s okay. I’m okay with that.
But if you’re to the point where you would tell a friend that renovation is your church home, it’s time to “be a part of something”
God is doing things in this church with people’s lives that many of you have never seen before…even if you’ve been a part of churches for a long time.
BE A PART OF THAT!
And also, it isn’t just about serving here on a Sunday
Maybe some of you will leave with one of our future church plants.
Some of you will go to Haiti with us. Or Rwanda.
Some of you are being called to get out into the community…or the broader community and serve.
To serve at Alexandra House…a house for battered women
Serve with habitat for humanity in Anoka County
Mentor kids in need through Kinship
Volunteer at the foodshelf…at CEAP….or the North Anoka County Emergency foodshelf
Volunteer at Family Promise…to serve the homeless in our county.
If you’re interested in some of these service opportunities right here in Anoka County (and plenty more), I’d like to refer you to a website: it’s bridgelinkanoka.org
Bridgelink works with over 10 different volunteer organizations in our county serving people in need.
And my prayer is that, like I said earlier, that you don’t respond out of guilt…but out of purpose.
That this is what God created you for as a disciple of Christ.
That THIS is what you were meant for.
Not just for yourself.
My prayer is that you see the vision for how God could use you.
And serving others is one of the main reasons that Christianity continues to thrive worldwide.
Because serving others…doesn’t really make sense from most other worldviews…and often even religious ones.
If you come strictly from an evolutionary standpoint…well, if people can’t figure it out, and they’re struggling…well, humanity is better off without them anyway. That’s survival of the fittest.
Or, even think about Karma.
Americans throw out the word all the time now. “Karma will come back around.”
But I doubt that few ever think about the ramifications of a society built on Karma.
In cultures where Hinduism thrives (which is where Karma comes from), there’s no point in serving the homeless, the poor, the raped, the diseased, because well, that’s just their Karma from a past life…so one should not interfere.
But that’s not what Jesus teaches us.
He teaches us that EVERYONE…no matter their situation…no matter what life has thrown them…no matter their mistakes….is worth serving.
Is worth showing his love to.
And we, as disciples of Christ…have an opportunity to share this language of grace and love like few others can.
But God can only use you if you’re willing.
If you’re willing to take what he’s doing in your mind, and doing in your heart…and take that love out to other people.
And I pray you will.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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