Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling
Continuing our series on how to navigate life’s journey with 2020 vision, the ninth element of spiritual clarity (and third of our escape routes from temptation) is serving. As mentioned in my last two articles, God always provides a means for avoiding that first step toward sin’s downward spiral (1 Corinthians 10:13). Worshipping, co-creating, and serving constructively help us to relocate (whether physical or mental) and replace destructive habits with healthier, godly ones. While all three require us to turn our affections away from ourselves and the world to Christ, serving in particular leads us to loving our neighbors just as Christ demonstrated his love for us by serving us:
… and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Matthew 20:27-28 ESV
As with co-creating, when we serve others we are emulating Christ’s godly activities and hence co-serving with him. Moreover, when we serve the least of these we are serving the Son of God:
And the King will answer them, Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me. Matthew 25:40 ESV
So that’s the “why” we serve. The “how” we serve, as with all other matters of life, is with faith and humility. We show up, help out, and trust God with the results. When we do, we are equally blessed with those we have served. As a pastor in Pittsburgh, I used to take a team of volunteers from our church to an inner-city church comprised of homeless people—many with addictions. We would prepare a meal in advance and serve the homeless after worshiping and celebrating communion with them. Some were extremely grateful and encouraging. Others were ungrateful and demanding—sometime yelling and cursing at us. Those who were repeat volunteers understood the nature of sin and Christ’s calling to serve. Those who were looking for warm fuzzy feelings usually did not return. For those who persevered, we gained perspective of our own blessings as well as a deeper understanding of God’s grace. Meanwhile, with an outward focus toward the needs of other, we had “relocated and replaced.” We were renewing our minds with healthy behavior and thought patterns that were drawing our affections away from ourselves and the word toward Christ. It is in these moments that we escape temptation and are able to refocus our 2020 vision!