To certain people, these words might bring back some unpleasant memories and feelings. But I am not referring to being served with a summons. Rather, I am speaking of the fact that we have been served, royally, by God.
To be served fits alongside Jesus’ statement in Mark 10:45: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” If Jesus came to serve, then the people he came to serve have indeed been served. It’s not much about what they did for him; it is what he did for them.
But this doesn’t fit so well when pastor-types (like me) begin to rail against “consumer-Christianity” and to complain about pew-sitters who just want to be entertained. “We need more Christians to serve instead of just sit,” you might hear one of them (like me) say. I am afraid that this (convicting) emphasis dulls the sharp edge of the gospel.
We don’t join the family and fellowship of God by our service. We join the community of believers by grasping and accepting God’s service to us in Christ. we begin to understand how deeply we stand in need of this service, and that we are helpless to achieve its ends on our own. This is humbling, even crushing to realize, especially for the do-gooders of the world, and the self-sufficient.
So we have to be very careful about urging people to serve (even though they may). We must be very sure that those who are eager and willing to serve are not doing so with a dulled sense of the gospel, from which they might think they will find greater acceptance with God by virtue of their service. We do not earn points by our serving. All the points a Christian scores were scored by Christ alone, from whom alone we receive a perfect righteousness and clean record.
This potential for confusion is why service in the church should be done by believers. Unbelievers are already confused about the value of their works, often thinking that they can self-atone by doing good things or by cleaning up or by improving. I am not saying that all service should be done by members. That’s another issue. But the church is made up of believers, and its service is carried out by believers whose service is not a work deserving a wage, but a gift of gratitude in response to God’s grace. We seriously degrade our building materials (1 Corinthians 3) when the unredeemed use service in attempts to aid their own redemption.
You’ve been served, by God, who loves to serve. Yes, He is the great and awesome God who is worthy of the deepest respect and highest honor. It seems that He is the One who should be served. But He is also the King who loves to serve, even if it means washing the disciples’ feet (yes, I know that was Jesus, but the Father and Son share the same value system). Peter said, “You will never wash my feet!” (John 13:8). Jesus said, “If I don’t wash your feet, then you have no part with me.” Our fellowship with God and His Son requires that we be served; that we submit to His service.
We are honored to be served. We don’t deserve it, but we enjoy it and grown in our desire for it. We desperately need to be served by God, and it humbles us. But it also provides the believer with a warmth and intimacy that replaces short-lived and diminishing-returns comforts that the world offers. Child of God, you have been served, praise God, yesterday, today, and forever.