February 2017

“This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.” 1 Corinthians 4:1–2 (ESV) We began our journey considering the opening about how we want to be regarded. Now we ask what does it mean to be “servants of Christ”? What is a servant? Here is a dictionary definition: servant, |ˈsərvənt| noun,a person who performs duties for others, especially a person employed in a house on domestic duties or as a personal attendant.” First notice that what is done is done “for others.” This immediately raises an interesting problem. Our natural tendency is to want to do something for the other. We want to do what we think is best, and in the way we think is most efficient for the other. The failure is that this is not service but a gift. Service is doing what the other wants in the way the other wants it accomplished. The best illustration that I can offer is the television show, Downton Abbey. Mr Carson and the staff do not simply take care of Lord Grantham (and all the little Crawleys), rather they are employed to accurately execute the Crawleys’ wishes in the manner the Crawleys’ designate.

Here is a hypothetical, if Lady Grantham wants her toast served from the left side, then Mr. Barrow will walk around the entire table and everything else to serve her thus. Even if he were standing at her right elbow, he’ll walk around to present the toast in the manner preferred.  In our age we look at this and scoff, how ridiculously inefficient to walk all the way around when I can simply serve from the other side or reach across. The essential issue is that we impose our decision making instead of obedience. If Lady Grantham wants her toast on the left, she shall have it is so, regardless of what I think about the action.

If we are to serve Christ we must authentically embrace what He wants, accomplished the way He wants it accomplished. Consider Jesus’s interaction with the centurion in Matthew 8:8–10 (ESV) But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 10 When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith. When Jesus says to you go, do you go? When Jesus says come, do you come? Notice it’s not when I agree, or when it is convenient or when I agree with the purpose, it is simple obedience. I do not ask, I am told.

Again Christ not only tells us what to do, but He clearly has His unique way of accomplishing it. Listen to Zechariah 4:6 (ESV) “Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.” God always accomplishes His will by the operative power of His Spirit. It is not my might, my power, my cleverness or my better way that accomplishes His purpose, it is only by His Spirit that victory is won. 

God does not ask us for favors or help or clever strategies. He simply asks us to obey. He expects us to be “under authority.” In Sunday’s sermon we saw that the root of the Greek “servant” was an under-oarsman. Under being the significant consideration.

The oarsman aspect powerfully implies activity, effort and labor. All servants work. A servant is not “window dressing” in the house. They are the mechanism by which work is accomplished. Servants can point to the accomplished work. “I set the table.” “I laid out tea.” Jesus said in Acts 1:8 (ESV) “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” So can we point to the places where we have born witness to Jesus? If we can’t are we good servants?

How might we evaluate this challenge? First am I intentional in my service? Lord I will bear witness to you. Second am I looking for opportunities to serve? Every day of my life am I aware and alert for the potential opportunities. Third am I prepared to bear witness? Have I thought through why I am a follower of Jesus? Have I created a simple strategy for sharing His  awesome love and grace? Have I practiced to be facile in delivery? And finally can I point to individuals to whom I have intentionally born witness?

If I want people to regard me as a servant of Christ, then I have to demonstrate my service to Him. Serving Christ is the greatest accomplishment of life for all His disciples.