If you’ve made it this far in this series, you’ve already grasped that there is more to attending church than simply showing up, unless you just jumped ahead to this post. That would be like eating dessert before dinner, which I’m all in favor of, especially if it’s cookies. If this is you, I won’t tell you again about how we need to go to church with a spirit of anticipation and not evaluation, or, that we need to go seeking to be equipped and not just entertained. You can go back to parts 1 and 2 in “How to Attend Church?” to get those dinner items. Here in this post, I want to cover a third way we need to approach attending church that’s just as critical and it’s this:
We are to attend church looking for ways to serve others.
“Hey, wait a minute, is this some sort of trick?” you might be saying to yourself. “Serving others isn’t dessert. That’s like saying your going to get Crème Brule (another dessert favorite of mine) and you’re handed Brussels sprouts. What’s up with that?” Well, I know it can seem this way but serving others is really meant to be a blessing to us as well as others.
When you take a look at Jesus life, you can see that he served others all the time. His schedule was full of serving others. Even when he had places to go and people to see and his itinerary had other items planned, Jesus would still take the time to serve someone else. Jesus would often go all day and well into the evening to serve. He would often keep an intense pace, and you could wonder how was he able to do that.
How could Jesus just serve others so much?
Well, there are many reasons. Jesus always took time away to be with God the Father. He took time to rest, even if it was in the back of a boat during a raging storm. He would hang out with friends to eat and laugh. Jesus maintained a balance to life. But along with this, I believe there was another reason. I believe it was because it made him happy to bless others. This is part of God’s nature. God just loves to help. In fact, Jesus said this about why he came.
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Mark 10:45
As you can see, Jesus came to help us in the most important of ways. Jesus came to give his life as a ransom for us. He came to do what only he could do, which was to pay the penalty for sin for all of humanity so that all people could have the opportunity to be saved. But there is also another reason listed for why Jesus was born and lived among us. He came to serve.
Jesus could have said, “I came to be waited on and have as much fun as possible until the day I give my life for all of you.” But he didn’t. Jesus didn’t come to be served but to serve. Not only that, but Jesus also said this.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” – John 10:10
Jesus came so we can live to the full. He came so that we could experience lives filled with meaning and joy. Plus, Jesus is also the author and perfecter of our faith (see Hebrews 12:2). He is the one who sets the example for how we are to live. So, when we put this all together, Jesus came so that we can live life to the fullest, and as part of showing us how to do this, he served. To put this another way, serving is part of the pathway towards a full life.
Serving others is meant to help others and bless us in the process. So, we need to seek ways to serve, and there are two primary places to look. The first is at church. Choosing to volunteer at church is a great way to serve others and help to fulfill the vision God has given to your church. What’s great is that if your church has more than one service, you can serve during in one service and attend another. You get both dinner and dessert!
Along with serving at church, there is a second place to look and it’s out in your community. We need to find ways to serve those around us. We need to show love to others, and especially to those whom others might pass by. For as Jesus taught, whatever we do for one of the least among us, we do for him (See Matthew 25).
It may come as a shock to you but there have been many times when I have been asked to help someone and I didn’t feel like doing it. But you’re a pastor? True, but pastors are real people who have to deal with life issues too. A reality of life is that all of us have times when we just don’t feel like serving. Yet, what I can tell you is that each time when I decided to serve someone else when I didn’t feel like it, especially choosing to serve the least among us, it was more than worth it. In fact, those moments have turned out to be some of the more meaningful times of I’ve had in life.
So we need allow church to help us find ways to serve others and then go do it. We are to look for places to serve because we are to love our neighbors as ourselves and it’s just the right thing to do. But along with this, you just might find that serving others is also like a big plate of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies with a big glass of milk. And it doesn’t matter if you’re lactose intolerant or you’re one of the few people on the planet who doesn’t like a warm chocolate chip cookie. You will still be blessed!