“Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.”
— Mark 9:35b (NRSV)
There are many, many Christians who have lost faith in the church because either their servant hearts were abused or they weren’t servant-hearted (enough) and sought recognition for their works of sacrifice. In the first place the leaders of the church may have been inappropriately carnal. In the second place, the serving Christian was looking for worldly kudos and not the kudos of God.
What is needed in the world of servanthood is a heart invasion, where Jesus Christ has taken us hostage by love, and by love we must now operate: a gospel miracle.
The miracle of the gospel, as it is thrust irrepressibly into a person’s soul who is saved by Jesus Christ, is the power indwelling the servant-shaped heart.
Serving for the Love of It
This is a concept that is absolutely bizarre, verging on the ridiculous, for the worldly person. They cannot understand why someone would want to be the last of all and servant of all, giving their life away for the glory of God.
The worldly person seems to have the better perspective. They may sacrifice for their family and close friends, but at the end of the day they live for themselves. Serving God, to them, would be a negation of life. That’s their prerogative.
But when the heart is turned towards God—when the Lord becomes our Lord—we are captivated for the love of serving. It is a privilege to serve; to work for an invisible but never more real Kingdom. There is love in the work—in the process of the work—no matter how menial the tasks of serving are. In fact, the more menial and undesirable task may bring more joy in the serving.
One of the reasons we love serving is because we serve with others who are captivated by the same passion; bringing glory to God, because they can. Such a life sown to serving is inspirational to live, to share, to observe, and to reflect on. God lives in us vibrantly through our serving.
When our hearts are won to this majestic obsession, which is tempered by wisdom, so our serving has sustainability about it, we have the abundant life.
The servant-shaped heart sits within the soul of the person who has abundant life. They have discovered the secret to life: to gain their life they must lose it. To get life they must give it away. No ‘ifs’ or ‘buts’. Real servanthood is about the sheer love of work for others. It requires no recognition and no reward. To serve is its own reward.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.