I WANT TO SERVE By Bill Stoner

Why isn’t every Christian interested in serving Christ? Every Sunday hundreds of people come to the

Why isn’t every Christian interested in serving Christ? Every Sunday hundreds of people come to the worship service, they sit, stand, and then sit some more. Then at the proper time (often it’s about noontime) hundreds of people head towards the door, get in their cars until next Sunday, when they will do it all over again. Is this “serving”? What does serving Christ mean? I’m not referring to 30 years in the mission field in Indonesia, 20 years behind the pulpit, or 50 years in the nursery. Sorry, I know the nursery only meets one day a week, but that day may seem like 50 years depending on the number of babies crying.

Is serving directly connected to a sign-up sheet? My apologies, but you don’t become a servant of Jesus Christ by volunteering to help with VBS, or by committing to a mission trip, or even by offering to clean the church every week (although that would be nice). No, you become a servant of Jesus Christ by imitating Christ, by living the life He would live, by loving the people the way He would love people, and by obeying the Scriptures, the way He always did, every time without exception. But what about all those announcements from the pulpit regarding the need for Sunday School teachers, and all those emails about the necessity for drivers and cleaners and people to watch the kids? Isn’t that being a servant? Yes, that may physically be what a servant does and it is be open to the Lord about what he wants you to do to help the church, both here and in the community. But being a servant is volumes more than that. It is not about something you are called to do, but about someone you are called to be.

I spent over 30 years in the church recruiting people to serve in different areas. I needed people to be teachers, to be helpers, or listeners, or to help with AWANA. It seemed like an endless job as many people would leave and their replacements were signing up. Every time I would get a new “recruit” I would sit down with them and interview them (the length of the interview depended on what the job was). I would ask questions such as “Why do you want to do this? Why do you believe the Lord wants you to do this?” And of course, often they would give the most obvious answer: “The Lord wants me to do this.” That answer would usually fill the bill until it didn’t!  

For example, it was back in the 90’s and I was running a summer day camp at our church. I recruited about 20 different workers for the week. On Wednesday of that session one of the counselors came to me and asked if it would be okay for her not to be there on Friday; a couple of her girlfriends were going to the beach and they were leaving on Friday. She thought that one of the volunteers could cover her group. I thought about it, and then I answered her, “Do whatever you believe the Lord wants you to do, to go to the beach or finish the week with your kids.” You see, servants don’t just sign up for events or positions just because someone needs to fill that space or because it sounds like fun or “I’m not doing anything that day anyway”. No, they are looking for ways they can serve, for opportunities to engage with other people, or ways they can use their gifts out of love for their Master. They want to serve because that is what servants do.

John MacArthur says in his book “Slave”: “Scripture’s prevailing description of the Christian’s relationship to Jesus Christ is the slave/master relationship. But do a casual read through your English New Testament and you won’t see it. The reason for this is as simple as it is shocking: the Greek word for slave has been covered up by being mistranslated in almost every English version- going back to the King James version and the Geneva Bible that predated it. Though the word slave (“doulos” in Greek) appears 124 times in the original text, it is correctly translated only once in the King James.” Macarthur goes on to say that the reason was because of the stigma that is attached to slavery in Western Culture.

When we think about serving Jesus, we need to realize we are slaves. It is not what we want to do, but rather what does the Master want me to do? How can I please Him? Titus 2:14 says “(Jesus Christ) Who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” And I Corinthians 7:23 says “You were bought at a price, do not become slaves of men”.  

So, the next time, don’t wait for someone to make you feel guilty from the pulpit or through the bulletin. Decide today that you are going to be obedient to your Master, and you will do whatever He desires, because He and He alone, knows what is best for you. By the way, about the girl who wanted to go to the beach? Well, let’s just say we all had an entire wonderful week of camp!