Friday, November 04, 2005

Getting Outside of the Church Box

As previously mentioned, last Thursday, October 27th. I heard a brilliant message. It was on a topic I have been very passionate about, but it was probably put the best I've ever heard it.

Let me begin how our pastor began (he always begins like this; I love it). Let me define for you what the dictionary says SERVICE is:

serve (sûrv)
v.Servedd, serv·ing, serves
a. To work for.
b. To be a servant to.
a. To prepare and offer (food, for example): serve tea.
b. To place food before (someone); wait on: served the guests a wonderful dinner.
a. To provide goods and services for (customers): a hotel that has served tourists at the same location for 30 years.
b. To supply (goods or services) to customers. See Usage Note at service.

We always start with definitions. We always go back to the basics. So often words are taken out of context, so it is nice to go back the actual definition.

Here is our theme scripture for the night's message:

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many”
(Mark 10:45)

We are called by God to not only serve Him, but to serve others, without expecting anything in return. We should simply be doing it because it is asked of us and it was the example that Christ left for us. He did not come to be served, but to serve others. Everyone can do it!!! We all have something to offer!! Serving is what being a Christian is all about!!

We hear all of the time how we are to love on one another. Yes!! This is true. But, how do we love on each other? We are to find out the needs of others and help to meet them, through serving them. Now if you see a homeless man shivering on a cold, rainy night, it should be obvious what he needs without even having to ask him. You can see that he needs an umbrella, something dry to put on, something to keep him warm, and a warm meal to warm him from the inside. He is someone that a little love and a little service would go a long way. But, God wants us to have our eyes open for helping everyone, not just those whom it's obvious need help.

Do you have a neighbor that struggles carrying their groceries inside? Put aside a few minutes and help the neighbor. Do you know someone who is elderly and has trouble keeping their homw vacuumed or their bathroom clean? Pick a day to go over and offer your strong hands to help them? Do you know someone who is lonely and just needs someone to talk to? Schedule a time to hang out with them and be a good listener if need be or a great story teller if they just want company. Do you know someone who is stressed out? Bring them dinner or ice-cream to help cheer them up.

Here are some real examples of things that people have done to SERVE others and to make their day a little bit brighter:

"Help in a time of need _Submitted By: L. Goad _Date Submitted: 10/16/2005 __As my daughter was riding to school with two friends, a van pulled out in front of them. The accident occurred on October 26, 2004 - four days prior to her 16th birthday. She was riding in the back seat and suffered the most injuries. She broke her jaw, neck, four places in her back, right arm and had traumatic brain injury. The doctors did not think she was going to survive. She was known as the miracle child throughout the hospital where we stayed for over three months. It has been one year since the accident. My daughter is still recovering from this life-changing tragedy. She has many more surgeries to undergo plus rehab. __Without my knowledge, our community church is having a BBQ and bake sale - giving all proceeds to my daughter for her medical expenses. You cannot imagine my surprise and shock that the community is doing this for her. Since it has been one year since her accident, many people have stopped calling her and visiting her. By having the BBQ, our small community has shown my daughter that there are people who still think of her and care about her. I pray if anyone knows of someone who is in a situation such as this, they will remember that the feeling of being alone is extremely painful. Show kindness by visiting or calling those who had a life-changing event happen to them. My daughter’s accident lasted less than a minute but changed her life, plus our entire family’s, life forever.

Things People Do _Submitted By: Leslie Foster _Date Submitted: 10/7/2005 __Keith, my cousin, was on his way home from work, driving down the interstate in the evening rush hour traffic. People were rushing by and not even paying attention or bothering to stop for a car that was broke down on the interstate. As my cousin was approaching the vehicle, he noticed the car was half on and half off the interstate with the hood raised. He pulled in behind the vehicle to see if he could assist them with anything. That's when he noticed the car contained three elderly women and a baby. He then helped them push the car off the road, called for roadside assistance and stayed with them until the tow truck came. Before Keith left, the lady said to him, "Thank you so much, I don't know how long we would have waited here if it wasn't for people like you that have a loving and caring hearts.

Snow blowers and Lawn Mowers _Submitted By: Kristin, Pennsylvania _Date Submitted: 6/20/2005 __I am a single woman living alone and my neighbors have been kinder than I ever imagined. During the winter they have snow blown and shoveled my walk. Well, truth is we create a sort of shoveling party and all help dig each other out; but they spend loads of extra time helping me, even digging out my car! __And in the spring and summer, one neighbor cuts my 1/2 acre with her riding mower and another mows the hill the riding mower cannot reach. Wow! They are simply fabulous and I cannot thank them enough."

It is so easy to serve others. Why do we make it so difficult? It is really simple and it feels good to do it!! Once you start, you'll automatically start seeing more things you can do to brighten someone elses day. But the key is, you have to start looking for things to do for others.

Here is another quote from the night's message that I loved and it is so applicable:

“Our world has become a large, impersonal busy institution. We are alienated from each other. Although crowded, we are lonely. Distant. Pushed together but uninvolved. No longer do most neighbors visit across the backyard fence. The well-manicured front lawn is the modern moat that keeps barbarians at bay, Hoarding and flaunting have replaced sharing and caring. It’s like we are occupying common space but have no common interests, as if weÂ’re on an elevator with rules like: ‘No talking, smiling, or eye contact allowed without written consent of the management.
“Painful though it may be for us to admit it here in this great land of America, we’re losing touch with one another. The motivation to help, to encourage, yes, to serve our fellow man is waning. People have observed a crime in progress but refused to help so as not to be involved.”
Charles Swindoll

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many”
(Mark 10:45)

These next words are so true and I was so glad they were actually said at the pulpit. I know a lot of you will completely agree, but for those of you that these words are hard to swallow, I challenge you to read them a few times to see the truth behind them, paticularly the part that is bolded.

"Forgotten words.
In the secular system there are distinct levels of authority. It’s true today for sure. In government there is our president, his cabinet, and a large body of personally selected men and women who have privileges the common citizen does not possess. In the military there are officers and enlisted men…and ranks within each. In sports there are coaches and players. In the business world there are corporation heads and lines of authority between managers and personnel, shop superintendents, foreman, and laborers. The person in the labor force is expected to punch a clock, show up on time, work hard, and not take advantage of his or her employer. There’s a name for those who choose not to follow those directions. Unemployed! Why? Because the boss is in charge. That’s the way the system works. As Jesus put it, ‘their great men exercise authority over them.” But then He adds, ‘It is not so among you.’ Why isn’t this so? Simply this, in God’s family there is to be one great body of people: servants.
In fact, that’s the way to the top in His kingdom.

Whoever whishes to become great you shall first be a servant.

Yes, these seem to be forgotten words, even in many churches with their smooth pastors, high-powered executives, and superstar singers. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be much of the servant mentality in such settings. Even in our church life we tend to get so caught up in a success and size race that we lose sight of our primary calling as followers of Christ. The ‘Celebrity Syndrome’ so present in our Christian thought and activities just doesn’t square with the attitudes and messages of Jesus. We have skidded into a pattern whereby the celebrities and top dogs in our church life call the shots, and it is difficult to be a servant when you’re used to telling others what to do."

As Christian, we need to be more about loving and serving others (Christian or not), not about building up our numbers at church. I think the focus has gone far too much on what happens inside the church building walls and needs to shift on to the world outside. "The Church" is the body of believers, not a building. We need to be out in the community serving and simply being among the people as Christ did while He was on Earth. We need to step out of the box that The Church has created for itself, intentionally or not. We need to not be about only hanging out with "Christian friends" and listenting to "Christian music." Do you think Christ would be content with that? I sure don't. I think He would be out with the people of the world. He'd be walking among them and talking to them, building up relationships, whether they were homosexual, buddist, muslim, white, black, wealthy, homeless, popular, outcast, Christian, leader, or follower. The point is Christ LOVED and SERVED ALL. So should we!!!

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many”
(Mark 10:45)

After the message was over last Thursday night, I was so pumped to go out and serve others. I hope that I have somewhat relayed the amazing content and message that was given last Thursday. I hope that at the least, this causes you to think about how you could brighten someone's day today.

"It is now generally acknowledged … that one can be a professing Christian and a church member in good standing without being a disciple."
_Dallas Willard


Teresa said...

You ministered to me here Stephanie. I have been a bit self centered lately and mixed up. What hurts my heart is that those who don't really know Christ can sometimes be more kind and intuitive to the needs of others than us believers. About 15 years ago I blew a tire going about 70mph on the freeway. I was OK but shaken up. I stopped on the side of the freeway in the middle of nowhere in my mini-skirt. Now what? A car pulled in front of me and began pulling backwards tward my car. My first thought was that he was after my mini-skirt. He was dressed in military attire--fatiques (spelling I don't know) and he did not say much. He immediately began changing the tire without a word. He did not ask what I needed, he just knew. I could not tell him thanks enough. He didn't look at my legs by the way, at all. His only comment was, "If my sister was here, I would want someone to do the same". If Jesus was there, would we not stop? Jesus said that when we do things for others we do it for Him.

Teresa said...

When you mentioned service, my first thought was that you were talking about a "church service". I wonder why we call it that? Should we not put serving before sitting. How are we serving by sitting? I think there is a post idea. Thanks

Flip said...

Great post Stephanie - I do believe that being a Christian doesn't mean just sitting in church every Sunday to listen to the message...rather - we're called into action - or in this case into service - we're called to love.

Stephanie said...

Teresa~ I'd love to see you post on that...Alex and I began thinking about the questions you posed...we both think that would be a very interesting study.

Flip~It is great hearing from you. Hope all is well with you.

Vicki said...

Love your blog and insights, Stephanie, and wondered if I may link to you? Good post.