The sacrifice Jesus made on the Cross is the essence of my existence. Apart from the Cross, I am literally nothing. I’m useless without Christ. But I’m also useless if I don’t do things in response to Christ. See, often, people see Christianity as being a solo date to prom. You just have to go. Get the tux or the dress. Show up at the right time. Sneak in the back. Mesh with the crowd. Talk. Drink some punch. You’re good. A lot of people see Christianity very similar. Go to church/church camp. “Walk down to the front.” Pray. High five a youth pastor. Try to read your Bible and stop shortly after you start. Never do many bad things. Ride it out. You’re good.
I’m here to tell you two things. Both are true. Two plus two equals 4. And faith without works is deader than dog food (James 2). I personally believe that everything you do as a Christian falls into the category of service. Oh, really? you say. Yes, really. That’s why I wrote this third blog.
The first blog of this top 5 things was on daily engagement with Christ. Apart from a true relationship with Christ, everything else you are doing is a waste of yours and everyone’s time. Also, the fruit if a true relationship is it actually existing. If I talk to my mom once a day for 4 seconds about the same list of things, we don’t have a relationship. You have to be actively interacting with God. Daily. Often.
The second blog was on sharing the Gospel. Simply put, if you know how to live forever, why wouldn’t you share that? You either don’t value the information, or you don’t actually possess the information. Christ completely alters the course of your life when you are saved. How on earth we could ignore that enough to keep it quiet is beyond me… and it’s inexcusable.
Now, we arrive at the third thing I think Christians ought to have built into their lives. Step one is to know Christ. Step two is to share Christ. Step three is to reflect Christ. I’m talking about service. I think there are 3 main categories of service that literally everything falls under.
Serve yourself. (2 Peter 1:5-8, 1 Peter 3:15, Deuteronomy 6)
This seems a little off, doesn’t it? I thought Christians were supposed to be humble. They are. Let me explain to you exactly what I mean. I’m sure it’s not what you may think it is.
Team sports are very interesting. The key to any team’s success is being the best sum of its parts it can be. When you have 11 guys on the football field, the goal is to have all 11 players perform perfectly for 60 minutes. Now, we know this doesn’t happen. Why not? Well, maybe the opponent is better. Maybe, the team isn’t prepared. Maybe, something goes wrong, like a key injury. A lot of things can happen. There is one way to mitigate as much failure as possible, though.
I don’t mean the type of selfish where you slack off. I don’t mean the kind of selfish where you refuse to do your job. I don’t mean the type of selfish where you skip practice because you’re “tired.” I don’t mean the kind of selfish where you only do as much as you have to. What I do mean is very simple. It takes a little bit of selfishness to get better. You have to serve yourself. You have to cut some things out of your schedule to go get extra work in. You have to try and outperform everyone else. You have to ignore everyone’s negativity and focus on your own thoughts. You have to cancel some dates to go run. You have to beat the guy next to you in sprints. Without worrying about yourself enough, you will never be ready to play. Never. It won’t happen.
We have to be selfish with our Christianity. Our faith takes a back seat to absolutely nothing. Our growth is priority number one. If you’re not serving yourself at least some, you will not move. You will become stagnant. And that’s not very good. How can we expect to share Christ when we don’t know Him? And how do we get to know Him? We engage. Who is in that engagement? Me. And Jesus. No one else. No one else’s faith can make mine better independently. As a Christian, I have to make sure I’m being fed. And let me clarify– you never, ever use Christianity as a reason to skip commitments, to skip out on people, or to make up for your lack of prioritization. All I’m saying is if you don’t decide faith is important to you and your own growth is paramount, good luck being a vessel for God’s glory.
We must serve ourselves. If our faith is a 1/10, it doesn’t matter how many things we do and say. If there’s so growth, there’s no fruit. Period.
Serve others. (Hebrews 6:7, 2 Chronicles 15:7)
This is the one where you say, “Duh.” And yeah, I’m not going to bore you with some Captain Obvious statements about serving others. Everyone on the planet sees the truth in that. We serve others because Christ served us on the Cross. That’s why we do it. It shows who Christ is through who we are. But allow me to take this deeper and (hopefully) challenge you a little bit.
Serving others is the mark of the Christian. Noted. But there are several things we (myself fully included) do that we think is service, but it’s honestly not. One “fake service” we do is bad-heart service. Serving in a soup kitchen? Awesome. Teaching a Sunday school class? Fantastic. Helping a homeless guy? Wonderful. Doing it all with a sour attitude and reluctant heart? Waste of time. The actions we do have a massive impact. But if we do them out of sheer obligation, then we shouldn’t even do them. We shouldn’t complain, or cut corners, or make stipulations. I hear this often in regards to giving homeless people money. “Well, maybe they are going to buy drugs with it.” Maybe they are. Thank the LORD (literally) that Jesus didn’t say, “Well, I would take the nails, but Cooper is going to blow me off for 3 years before he takes his faith seriously. Maybe I’ll just buy him some food instead.” You don’t skip out on a homeless guy because he is a drug addict. Instead, ask to pray for him when you give him the money. Ask him his name. Talk to him. Do something. Don’t make an excuse for being a Pharisee.
Another fake service we do is mirror service. We want to do things that show only who we are, or at least claim to be. There are two issues with that. The first issue is that people can see right through that stuff. Often the word used here is “hypocrite.” You feel bad about your mediocre faith, so you do things that will kind of makeup for it. One of the key ways we do this is showing up to church. Congrats. You woke up before 11 on Sunday and made it into the balcony seating. One of the most frustrating phenomena of the local church is the pew sitters. Every church has them. They sit on pews. They don’t tithe. They don’t pray. Many are not even believers. They think they are doing some good by actually showing up. That’s beyond false. You’re better off to have faith in Jesus on a deserted island than to be lost in a local church. The second issue with mirror service is that service is inherently not about us. We are only supposed to serve and love because Christ first served and loved us (1 John 4:19). End of story.
Serve the LORD. (Colossians 3:17, Luke 12:48, Deuteronomy 6… again)
One of the most overused verses and concepts is “to do things as if doing them for the LORD.” We are largely desensitized to this concept. We admit it’s true, sure, but we largely kind of ignore its implications.
I’ve got this down as the third type of service. But don’t think of this as the third most important thing. Rather, if one is serve yourself, two is serve others, then what is one plus two? Three. And three– the combination of all service– should be to serve Christ. Service to the Lord is not the final step. Rather, it is the umbrella we live our lives underneath.
Were we to actually take serious the concept that everything we do points directly at Christ, our lives would change dramatically. If you keep up with sports at all, news stories go through a process. If one player messes up, he/she is criticized. Then, the team eventually suffers for his/her mistake. It creates a distraction. It makes it hard for the team to keep going. If that player were making decisions like their head coach were right beside them, mistakes would be less. If my head coach was in every class I took, I would never skip them. If my girlfriend– future fiancé and wife– were with me when I went to stores, I would never, ever, ever dare look at another girl lustfully. So, riddle me this, Batman… why on earth would we ever serve for anything or any reason other than Christ if He is always with us? If He is always near? If He created us? If He is the Alpha and the Omega? If He knows me all the way to my DNA? Answer: we wouldn’t.
Let me give you a contemporary example that proves this concept. Often, I hear people talk about tipping a waiter or waitress based on service. “Well, they were just rude tonight! I didn’t tip them.” I don’t necessarily disagree with this line of thinking. The only thing is, I actually, in my spirit, vehemently disagree with this mindset. One verse comes to mind: Luke 6:35. Jesus said, “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil,” (ESV). Logically speaking, if a perfect man, who was God, felt the need to suffer a brutal death for me, why do I not tip people? Really, why do I not actually give my whole life away? Jesus died. He died for me. He died for me despite the fact I sin. He loves me when I give Him countless reasons not to. And I won’t tip someone because my drink was empty? That’s called serving your sin. Sinfully, you think you ought to punish someone for their mistakes. Truthfully, God should do that to us for eternity. Yet, He loves us so much He’s not going to. Wild, isn’t it?
If you are going to call yourself a Christian, there are things you must do. Doing things doesn’t make you a Christian. It proves you are a Christian. First, you must have a relationship with Christ. Secondly, you must share this life-changing experience with the world. Thirdly, you must treat the world like Jesus Christ treated it. If you aren’t serving yourself in the sense that you need to grow, you’re never going to be a vessel for the LORD. If you aren’t serving others like they are lost souls and broken people, you will never, ever point to Christ with your actions. If you aren’t, ultimately, living life like Jesus is following you around, none of these things will ever be worth it.
Serve Christ like Christ served you.
Which means to pick up that Cross, choose sacrifice over security, and walk to the top of that hill to die.
And for all that is good and well… tip your waiter.