I read this quote a little while ago, and just couldn’t agree more. I have lots of thoughts on it, lots of ideas how this should shape us. But I think my thought’s will convolute the power of this simple quote. So all I would say is this: we should read this thought, and let it drive us into action because its true.
If a local Church falls into indifference as to what is going on in the rest of the world, it is certainly not a Church. John D. Zizioulas
“The church does not need brilliant personalities but faithful servants of Jesus and the brethren.”
But I think that is the temptation that the church has fallen for. That being big, having brilliant personalities, and preachers, that this is what will save the church. Bonhoeffer disagrees, and so does Jesus. What will save the church is people serving faithfully like Jesus to the world around them.
So to talk about this obviously we needed to talk about the TV show the Bachelor. You might not think that serving has anything to do with the Bachelor, and well you may be right, but here is what we learned on Sunday.
I believe that the TV show “the Bachelor” highlights a lot of our contemporary culture’s values and beliefs. The show has real people saying things that I think give us insight into some of the cultural waters we live in. And one thing you will notice again and again if you ever watch the show is how naturally selfishness comes out. People will say things like, “I just need to explore all my options”, or “I have to follow my heart, and so break yours”. Or even the whole premise of the show isn’t really to find love, it’s not to be rejected leaving without a rose.
So what’s the point? Well it’s pretty simple. Selfishness is deeply rooted in our culture, it is often celebrating in our culture, and it’s actually killing our culture. No world, culture, neighbourhood or friendship can survive the black hole that selfishness creates.
So how do you break selfishness? That’s what we looked at for the rest of Sunday, examining Philippians 2.
In Philippians 2 we read that we must have the same attitude of Jesus. Paul says get rid of selfishness and all its forms. Stop trying to impress people, making yourself out to be great. Focus on humility, don’t just look out for your own interests, look out for others.
And Paul then says, “be like Jesus”. He is seeking to ground this advice of rooting out selfishness in the practice and life of Jesus Christ. Jesus did not seek to grasp his rights, follow his own desires, but instead emptied himself and served others. This is to be our model as Christians. We are to give, to serve, and to empty ourselves.
In essence, Paul says serving others kills selfishness, and moves us in the direction of Christlikeness. Serving others must be at our centre, because it was and is at Jesus’ centre. Our world may be trapped by self-interest but we don’t need to be. We can live differently because of Jesus, we can live like Jesus. We can serve, sacrifice, give, and break selfishness in all its forms. We can love the world, and change the world by serving the world.
The question is, will we?
So we ended with a pretty specific call and challenge. To actually serve at least weekly, intentionally. The truth is that unless we plan how we will serve, life will get busy and make the choice for us. It is far easier to watch the Bachelor than mentor a youth. It is far easier to Facebook than to serve in a soup kitchen. It is far easier to watch a movie than it is to serve your community. But it is not better. So my challenge was simple – find a way to serve at least weekly. Weekly is really the minimum. It is something we should be doing daily with our lives. But weekly is a good start.
So that was the challenge and it’s a challenge I think we need to do for our lives. To be like Jesus, serve, kill selfishness, and love the world.
Big Idea: Serving others is the thing that kills selfishness
The church does not need brilliant personalities but faithful servants of Jesus and the brethren. Bonhoeffer
Selfishness is killing our culture.
We have accepted the belief that following our hearts fully is admirable and courageous.
Our culture says “That you are the most important and what you want is the most important. And that your job in life is to gratify your own desires”. David Foster Wallace
Greatness isn’t about yourself it’s about what you give, sacrifice, and how you serve.
Serving others is the thing that kills selfishness.
If you are truly serving it will be an inconvenience to you.
Sometimes serving is hard, but it is never wasted.
If you don’t plan how you will serve, you won’t.
To change a life, give of some of your life.
Adult Discussion Questions:
What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? What was new? Do you think that selfishness is a problem in our world? Where do you see it? Now where do you see it in your own life? How can serving help to break self-interest? When have you served and been changed through it? Where can you start to serve weekly now? Is there a place in your church, community, neighbourhood? When will you start?
Discussion Questions for Young Families
Teach your kids about the importance of serving. Choose a place to serve together. Maybe it’s to make cookies for neighbours, to go to a soup kitchen together, to go to the Gleaners, or other places as a family. Find a way to serve and go about it, make it happen, and see how it starts to change you.
Challenge for the Week: To intentionally serve weekly.
On Sunday we are looking at how we as Christians are called to serve. One of the marks of a Christian must be that they are serving consistently, intentionally, and with purpose. A Christian’s life who doesn’t change others, isn’t truly a Christian life.
So last week I shared with our church how we need to serve. This week I want to pursue that a bit deeper. And I want to do that through, of course, talking about the Bachelor. That’s right this Sunday is Bachelor Sunday…which is something I’ve never said before and will probably never say again.
But one thing that I think this show demonstrates to us is how easily it can become to get wrapped up in self-interest. Self-interest is something that kills relationships and it is killing our culture. A culture obsessed with self has no room for anyone else. And this is what we as Christians need to be fighting against, and the only way we can do that is to serve.
Serving kills selfishness and that is something that needs to happen.
So before we get to Sunday and looking at this all the more in-depth ask yourself this question: “are you serving anywhere consistently?” Because life has a way of making ourselves the priority, but that is not the Jesus way. So in your own life are you serving? Because if we want to love the world – we need to serve the world.
On Sunday we are opening up a passage of Scripture that most people have never heard a sermon on. The reason is…well how do you put this nicely…but Jesus seems either like a jerk or a racist or both.
Either way, most evangelical pastors avoid it, because they aren’t sure what to do with it. Liberal Christians see it as an example of the humanity of Jesus, and how he is “convicted and converted to being world-centric”.
But I think buried in this story is something so revolutionary, so incendiary, so transformative that it’s something that everyone needs to experience. Because this story will bring up the depths within us that we, as nice Canadians, keep buried. It’ll bring up the stuff that the Holy Spirit wants to change within us. And as I’ve prepared I’ve felt the Holy Spirit do that within me.
So that’s my prayer for Sunday – that the Holy Spirit might change all of us. But to begin why not read the passage and ask God to begin the process of changing you because we all need that:
Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.” Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment. Jesus left there and went along the Sea of Galilee. Mathew 15:21-28
On Sunday we looked at how we are called to follow Jesus. We were exploring the posture, disposition, and attitude of an apprentice. Because doing the same things as Jesus won’t make us Jesus-like unless we have the same attitude as Jesus. So we discovered that the attitude of Jesus is one of self-sacrificial service.
Jesus commands his disciples to serve others (Mark 9:33-37), he also lays down a pattern for us to follow in John 13. Here he washes the disciples’ feet, sets an example, and gives up his position and privileges to serve. This is our model and this is our example.
I know what you might be thinking… “This is nothing new”. But the point isn’t whether or not this is new, but whether or not it is true. Because if it is true that the attitude of a follower of Jesus is service. If it is true that an apprentice of Jesus is to get rid of position, power, prestige, and privilege – then we are going to need to change how we live. Remember doing the same things as Jesus won’t make us Jesus-like unless we are doing them in the same manner as Jesus. Meaning unless we are serving, humbling ourselves, choosing the last position, giving away our rights, and wrapping a towel around our waist and washing someone’s feet ~ we aren’t truly following Jesus.
This is hard I know. Peter himself struggles with it, and he doesn’t want Jesus to wash his feet. But Jesus turns to him and says if you hold onto your ideas of privilege, position, and social standing you can’t be part of what I’m doing (John 13:8). If you don’t let me wash your feet, and then be a part of washing others’ feet – you are self-selecting out.
So yes this might not be a new teaching. But it is a true teaching. And that means it’s worth thinking about, but it’s even more worth acting on. The desert fathers say, “If you have a chest full of clothing and leave it for a long time it will rot inside. It is the same with the thoughts in our hearts. If we do not carry them out through physical action, after a long while, they will spoil and turn bad.”
So this week don’t think “loving thoughts”. Don’t just talk about the importance of serving. Get out there, get a bit dirty, and start serving like Jesus. Because Jesus ends his talk with his disciples reminding them this is what you are to do…and if you do, you will be walking in the path of blessing. Blessing for others and blessing for you…
Big Idea: Service is the attitude of an apprentice
Do you know the next step to grow with God?
If you have a chest full of clothing and leave it for a long time it will rot inside. It is the same with the thoughts in our hearts. If we do not carry them out through physical action, after a long while they will spoil and turn bad. Desert Fathers
Because we have so much…we forget who we are
We are called to serve everyone
Pride and position can stop us from looking like Jesus and following Jesus
Do you understand what I’ve done for you?
Jesus is giving us a pattern and an example of serving to follow
Serving is to be the attitude that shapes every action of an apprentice
If your life revolves only around you it will get small very quickly
Start serving and you will start changing lives Because you will be living life like Jesus
Adult / Group Discussion Questions: What surprised you? What made you think? What made you laugh? What did you take away? How has someone serving you changed your life? When have you served and been blessed because of it? When do you struggle most with serving? What areas in your life could you step back and take “last place” rather than first? Who is God calling you to serve in your family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers? How might you do it this week?
Discussion Questions for Young Families: Talk about the importance of serving with your kids. Share with them how it brings you closer to God and to others. Ask them to brainstorm some places, or ways they would like to serve. Maybe go to a soup kitchen. Maybe plan to clean up a neighbors front yard, maybe shovel a driveway. And then go do it! Also be sure to notice and praise your kids when they take initiative in serving.