The freedom to serve

As a someday-pastor (God-willing), I’m faced with a vocation where I may feel called to move people into action to serve and help others. 

This makes me nervous, especially in my particular cultural context, because people like me tend to think of service as a burden. The overall culture that I live in is centered on the individual. 

What’s good for me right now? What are my needs and desires? And when I’m asked to help another individual or group, it sounds like someone’s telling me what to do. If I don’t do it, they’ll judge me, so I’d better make it look like I actually do more than they do. 

This gets really nasty really fast…

As Dr. Paul writes, the greater the law, the greater the trespass. The best way to get someone to NOT do something is to tell them they SHOULD do it. 

But I have to remember this...

In the gospel, there are no SHOULDS. In Christ, it is finished. On a divine level, the shoulds have gone away. Christ has taken away our SHOULDS and gives us CANS. We help and serve others because we CAN. Because we’re free to, unburdened by the law. 

As individualistic as our culture seems today, I believe we have a deep hunger to branch out beyond the boundaries of our skin (and walls, and neighborhood, etc.) and serve others. I believe that those who don’t do this suffer internally. Not because God is punishing them but because they’re depriving themselves (or their ego is preventing them) from doing it out of survivalistic self-preservation. 

But we don’t preserve ourselves by keeping to ourselves. We preserve ourselves by making sure our world out there has what it needs. (For example, when a widescale virus strikes and more people can stay home from work/school when they’re sick without stressing about feeding themselves and their families, the better off we all are.)

In the world, we serve others because we feel like we have to. In Christ, we serve others because we’re free to. Service is a divinely human opportunity. Not a burden. 

Help us to know this, God.
Amen.

Grace & Godspeed,
Jonas