There was a discussion on Facebook today about how some people think Christians are "whack jobs." Regardless, God is still great. I don't really know much about beer. I haven't had one in just about 30 years.
There are a lot of folks that consider themselves to be Christian. Some because they do good, and others because they have faith in God or are born again-- and others because they grew up in a Christian denomination. Far be it from me to decide who is in, and who is out. Some say we'll be surprised at who is going to be there, and others say who think they are in will be surprised when they are rejected at the Pearly Gates. Hmmm...
But let's say you are a real Christian who is feeling passionate about doing something for God. You know something beyond throwing a few bucks in the offering plate and trying to be a good person. The church calls it service or ministry, which could include such things as: reading scriptures on Sunday morning, planning a harvest party, serving communion, maybe going to the soup kitchen once a month, fostering neglected kids, or even a mission trip somewhere. Possibly you desire a job or position in the church as a pastor or worship leader, have a prophetic ministry, cast out demons, lead or host a small-groups, or do tent revivals. It's all service.
Today's blog simply asks the question, what is in your heart in terms of serving and how important is it? I know that's two questions-- I learned it from Jesus. When He was asked what the most important commandment was, he gave two answers in one sentence. Matthew 22:36-40.
The second question, "How important is it?" is the most important part. If it is not important, it is not likely to happen. The church is not a multi-level marketing scheme trying to get you fired up to find 10 that will find 10. If you are not going to love God with your whole heart, how then are you going to do something for Jesus that has any value? Just a thought.
Supposing that you do love Jesus, and it is important to serve Him some how, here is a great place to start planning for the big day. Try tithing your time-- giving 10% of your waking hours for service to the Lord. Of course that means that you need to budget your time for God (worship, prayer, fasting, study, and services), spouses, family and work-- which come first.
Did I mention that serving God takes some thought?
Luke 14: 28 Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? 29 For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, 30 saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.'
Now. supposing that you have thought about what it is going to cost to serve God in terms of time, money, and passion-- what's next? (I am not talking about how to be a disciple of Christ-- HERE's a blog on that.) That's right-- being a disciple will have its benefits. Disciples live in community with each other and learn how to be like Jesus, so when someone asks the question WWJD? Someone points at you.
Passion has brought you this far, and I am sure you're ready to get rolling. There are still a few more things to consider. What is your spiritual gifting? It is a good thing to know in case you come across a sinner in the rest room while you’re cleaning toilets or handing out bread in the food pantry. They might ask you for help or prayer. Can you preach a simple gospel explaining salvation or give a simple testimony? Can hear God's voice while praying or offer a godly word of encouragement? The other question that probably should be settled at some point in time is this, "What is your calling?" There has to be a godly purpose to your service. Service that simply fills needs, but is not of God, ends up burning people out. Service that comes from the heart of God is energizing.
We all need to get started and there are lots of jobs in the church. From parking cars, to leading missions and running God breathed programs, you can fit in and serve God. But beware, "job" based ministry makes it hard to get promoted. Titles, even harder.
I believe that true service comes from relationship. Get in a relationship with someone and go along with them to worship practice, to an outreach or some other place where they serve. Get to know folks in the midst of serving; your gifting and calling will probably emerge. This is the beginning of mentoring. If you are serving, train someone to do your job. You'll either get replaced or promoted, or you'll stay training and equipping; which is the heart of Ephesians 4.
Did I mention that obedience is better than sacrifice? It is. Just another thought.
When you sign up for service-- remember that you are not a volunteer, you are working for God and He expects your very best. So show up on time and work hard. Maybe you'll be like Gideon and have to go in the enemy's camp. Or you'll be like Moses and have to speak when you think you are not good at it. It is possible that you'll be like Zebedee brothers; possibly having to drop everything to follow Him-- you job, your friends, your house-- everything. Some times the cost of following Jesus is brokenness and trial.
Just a couple of more things - I mean you've read this far.
Mark 8:34-35 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it."
I know, that's one thing, not two. Or you could go back to tossing a couple of bucks in the plate and trying to be good. Just a thought.