We all have that activity, that thing we love to do when we catch a free moment. It’s what you do while you procrastinate, while you should be studying or doing your taxes or going to bed. That thing you automatically go to when cancelled plans buy you some extra time. That thing you’re willing to carve out time for over and against doing other things. You daydream about it, you make time, you look for the chance to do it again soon.
For some of us that may be drawing, skateboarding, spin class, baking, designing, hosting people in your home. Or hey, maybe even reading books (God bless you).
These are the things that fill us, bring us joy, help us be engaged in the world around us, and allow us to put into practice our unique interests.
All of these things also require energy, time, work, commitment, intentionality, money, and the sacrifice of other activities. Yet oddly enough, we choose to do these things time and time again because somehow, despite what they require from us, we have experienced how they also give us life. We are readily prepared to make sacrifices for something we believe will be life-giving, something that will bring us joy. In this, we learn that work and fulfillment are not mutually exclusive experiences.
Have you ever made a meal together with a group of people? For some, like me, cooking is shamefully unknown territory; it’s often just a nuisance when a hangry monster is overtaking me. In those moments, taking the time to cook a well-balanced meal is not a sacrifice that is worth it to me. I just want food and I want it now. But, preparing a meal with friends altogether in the kitchen, listening to music, catching up as we chop vegetables, and inviting others to join us when the meal is ready is an experience I happily take part in (being taught along the way no doubt!). The difference between these two scenarios is that one is done with community and in service to others, and the other is not.
At St. Peter’s we believe that service is something that fills us. Even though it also requires energy, time, and sacrifice. We serve out of joy — joy in getting to serve one another and joy in the Lord for all He has given us. We see serving as a privilege and as one of the ways that we worship God.
In the book of Mark, Jesus teaches John and James, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10.45). Jesus himself delighted and chose to come to earth, “taking the form of a servant,” in order to serve us (us!) (Philippians 2.7). Service is something that draws us closer to Jesus by forming us in his likeness. If the King of Kings chose to serve out of his great love, how much more are we called to serve as well.
We serve out of joy — joy in getting to serve one another and joy in the Lord for all He has given us.
It makes sense then that the Church, the gathering of God’s people, would be called the Body of Christ. This metaphor of the “body” helps illustrate how there are many different and equally necessary roles in the church (look to 1 Corinthians 12). In 1 Peter we are exhorted, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace…in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 4.10-11).
The body of Christ inextricably involves participation. Church is something that we participate in as the body of Christ by serving one another to his glory.
Some Sundays, serving looks like doing something that we’re passionate about, like the prayer team, playing in the band, or helping with Children’s Ministry. Other Sundays, it means carrying equipment to and from the stage, or being on slides (or vice-versa for some people— ah the beauty of the body of Christ!). Yet all of these acts are worship to God and necessary for our formation. We are encouraged by Paul to “serve one another humbly in love” (Galatians 5.13). How great a privilege it is to be humble servants for our community, looking to Christ’s example, no matter what the task. Because serving is about so much more than the physical task at hand.
Through serving, we come away from Sunday being formed by the Holy Spirit and looking more like Jesus. This is where serving collides with our vision for St. Peter’s We believe that through serving, we are prepared to go out into our city and into our world as people who are willing to walk in the ways of Jesus.
Like making a meal with friends, serving is also something we get to do together in community! This makes it all the more fun. There have been multiple times I’ve finished doing tear-down with people and they’ve said, “with a group of us all doing it together, that was actually fun!” (note the hint of surprise). Let the myth be broken that serving is not fun! This is especially when it’s being done with a posture of gratitude, and when we are intentional about introducing ourselves and meeting those whom we’re serving with.
I know that joining a service team can be intimidating. As someone who shares in social anxiety, I get it and want to invite you to join us all the more! Sometimes you just have to give yourself that push to meet a couple new faces and the ice of awkwardness will largely be broken. I invite you to participate in our church, to be formed in Christ’s likeliness, and to worship him through serving.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be entering into a new blog series (woohoo)! We will be looking at serving from different perspectives and roles in the church, such as Hospitality, Children’s Ministry, Looking after the physical and technical aspects of the service, and Prayer.
But for now, I pray Paul’s words for us, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another…And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful… And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Amen! (Colossians 3.12-17)