For those belonging to the Body of Christ, a life of service to others should be an identifying trait of a Christian. If we are serious about loving God deeply, we need to love with actions, not just words.
James writes that pure and undefiled religion looks like caring for the widows and the orphans. It’s not just about a personal relationship, it’s about living out the love we’ve been given to those in need.
Following Jesus means that, when we are tired and weary, we may pause but those around us, those in need, are still the priority. When Jesus and His disciples were spending long days, traveling from city to city, healing the sick, and preaching the Word of God, the disciplines urged Him to send the crowds home at the end of the day.
I often am weary of the people around me. I put in my minimal effort and want to check off the box and say I’ve completed what was required. But the Gospel is never about minimal effort, it is always about turning the mundane into the glorious and redeeming sinful man with the sacrifice of God Himself.
God set the example of giving everything in service for those He loved. When people were hungry, He refused to send them away and fed them (Luke 9). Instead of listening to others and avoiding the marginalized, He poured Himself out as life-giving water (John 4). And when I was in need of a sacrifice to atone for my sinful ways, Christ offered up His life for sinners in need of a renewed life in God.
This is the pure and undefiled religion we are called to emulate.
As Christians, we are called to serve. Not if we feel like it. Not if our heart is in the right place. Not if anything. It is as essential to the Christian life, not just essential for those who feel called.
“The King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” – Matthew 25:34-40, ESV
Jesus cares deeply about the love we are showing to the least of these.
As Christians, these verses should reach deep to our core and compel us to reevaluate our lives so that we can live in service to others. Jesus did not say they were welcome because of the verses they had memorized, the systematic theology they could defend, or even the time they had spent in prayer.
These are all good things but all of these things should aid us in living out fully this call to serve.
Serving can look like asking your church leaders to make you aware of needs in your church and community that you can fill. It might look like volunteering for an organization regularly to show love to those in need through food banks, after-school tutoring, or pregnancy crisis centers.
But often, I think day to day service looks like opening a door to the neighbor woman who you know needs a listening ear. It looks like stretching a meal to share with someone in need of food or starving for company.
Each of us will serve in different ways. Some will feel the call to tackle large-scale social justice issues such as modern-day slavery. Others will feel burdened to help young moms at the end of their rope by offering them a break and rocking their little ones to sleep. Both are good and holy works when offered at the feet of our Lord.
It doesn’t matter if your service looks different than that of the person sitting next to you. What does matter is that you serve. Serve not just when it’s easy, not just when you’re full, but when it demands more of you than you want to offer.
Because we are called to be living sacrifices (Romans 12). Our lives are offerings of worship not just when it’s convenient but at every hour, every moment of our lives.
So Christian, orient your heart around service. Don’t check the boxes and move on to “me time” but go above and beyond, offering love as Christ has offered to you. Model your life after Christ and do not consider an act of service beneath you but offer.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. – Philippians 2:3-7, ESV