Thursday, 20 January 2011

The goal of Christian service may not be what you think it is

People serve others for many different reasons; some serve out of guilt and others serve out of duty. Some serve out of love and others out of hate in other to get revenge. There are many different motivations why people choose to serve others but the motivation for there service is ruled by the end goal that the server wishes to accomplish. By this I mean for example, a man may set up a charity shop to help in the fight of defeating breast cancer, his motivation for starting the charity was because his wife recently died of breast cancer and thus his overall goal his to stop breast cancer therefore he sets up a charity shop and the death of his wife being the motivation. Another example would be that of a man who hates the fact that people don’t have access to clean water. His overall goal is to create this access and his motivation is that he wants people to have access to drinking water. These are all good motivations and good goals but the goal of Christian service goes beyond the prevention of a disease or solving the problems but rather it is to make people see our service and then to glorify and give praise to God. The goal of Christian service is to ultimately bring those whom you are serving to praise our heavenly Father.

This may sound shocking to some* but when you truly look at it, this is the best possible goal to have in serving others because God is the ultimate reality of our joy and happiness. When we work towards this goal in our serving, we love those whom we are serving infinitely more because we are not just catering for their physical needs but also their spiritual needs as well. This is not to say that you bombard people with evangelistic material in your serving but rather you display such love, care and affection so that when people see your good works they may give glory and praise to your Father who is in heaven.  For example, why did Jesus become a servant? Romans 15:8-9 answers this question and it says that ‘For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, so that the promises made to the patriarchs might be confirmed 9 and, moreover, that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy’. Also the verse before (vs. 7) says that Christians should accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you in order to bring praise to God. Jesus said on the sermon on the mount, ‘let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven’, Mathew 5:16. And 1 Peter 4:11 says that ‘If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen’.

The goal of Christian service is ultimately to make people glorify God, and in this goal is rooted in us a passionate love for our neighbours, an undying love that even though persecution comes our way yet we will serve them because we want them to know God and to glorify Him. Consider the works of missions, when Christianity was spreading rapidly in the first century, no one wanted the Apostle Paul to come to their village but he went and served as a faithful servant because he wanted people to praise God. Having this goal will also motivate the Christian to serve in difficult places in places where the secular man may feel a remote and dangerous place or it could cost their lives so why bother. The Christian will bother because his ultimate goal is to make people see the goodness and love of God so that they may praise this God and not perish forever.

Of course not everyone will submit and praise God, but do we serve them less? Absolutely not. For we love everyone unconditionally and serve them with all of our strength and might in the hope that they will come to faith and accept the free gift of salvation. This is the greatest of goals because it satisfies the physical need as well as the spiritual need. So, when Christians are serving for justice for the oppressed, providing clean water for the poor, feeding the homeless and visiting the widows our end goal should always be that people may see our good works and give glory to our Father in heaven. This should be our ultimate goal and we should never be satisfied at nothing less. Jesus came into the world to glorify His Father and in that process of glorification he sacrificed all that he had in love and we became the beneficiaries of such love and sacrifice. In the same way let us serve others so that they may glorify God and in that serving we would display the highest love we could ever give to our neighbours and the greatest gift, our life.

Today, serving at the wild goose café which is a café that serves to feed the homeless, the manager of the café prayed a prayer before we opened the doors. He prayed that the good works that we do here in the café will hopefully bring people to Jesus for that is the ultimate purpose of our existence as a cafe, (the words are paraphrased). When we serve with this goal we love our neighbours infinitely more than we ever could if we only end with the goal of physical satisfaction.


*Some may say but why not just serve people just for the sake of love without the end goal of them praising God?  An answer to this objection for the Christian is that genuinely love is for them to know God and to praise God for that is why were created; to glorify God. Therefore true love is serving people to this end and to save them from the judgement and wrath of God by pointing them to the mercy and love of God which is found in Jesus Christ. If the Christian does not serve to this end then the Christian is not loving his neighbour because he knows that when the poor man, or the oppressed or the man without access to clean water dies, each will face God and His eternal Judgement and Jesus is their only hope.

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