Friday, December 7, 2012

Lord Make Me a Servant

FootWashingIn our congregation, we have a set of teenage twins.  The young man has cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheelchair.  Although his body is severely affected, his mind is not.  He is a Christian, and he has had the opportunity to lead singing and to preach.  His twin sister is also a Christian, and she is physically a typical teenager.  Recently during worship, the siblings were sitting some rows ahead of me, and I saw something that really touched my heart.  Because of his condition, the young man is unable to take communion without assistance.  As he sat on the aisle in his wheelchair, his sister sat on the pew beside him and carefully served him the cup.  It took two or three times for him to be able to swallow it all, but she patiently helped him take the whole thing.  The scene let me know that this young girl already has the heart of Christ, the heart of a servant.

Being a cheerful servant is something I struggle with.  As a young Christian, one of my least favorite stories in the Bible was the one about Peter's mother-in-law.  Jesus came to Peter's house and found the woman sick in her bed with a fever.  He healed her fever, and she got up and served him (Matthew 8).  In my immature mind, I pictured Jesus healing her and then sitting down, putting his feet up, and watching a sickly woman tend to his needs.  A closer reading of the Bible, of course, paints a much different picture.

For one thing, Jesus doesn't heal half-way.  If men who have been paralyzed for years can suddenly jump up and walk, with all of their muscles strong enough to support them, then I figure Peter's mother-in-law didn't feel like an invalid when she was healed.  She probably felt great!  And the first thing she wanted to do when she felt better was serving others.  None of the accounts of her story say that Jesus commanded her to serve him.  He didn't need her to be able to feed himself or anyone else! He could have taken a crust of bread and turned it into enough food for the crowds that showed up.  No, Peter's mother-in-law began serving because that is the kind of person she was.  Jesus didn't heal her because He needed serving.  He healed her so that she could do what she wanted to do.  He healed her so she could live to serve another day.  

Being a servant has never been the worlds' idea of the pinnacle of achievement. In New Testament times, the disciples protested Jesus washing their feet right after they had an argument about who would be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  Even hundreds of years before, King Rehoboam rejected the advice of the elders who had served his father to "be a servant to this people today" (1 Kings 12:7).  Instead, he chose to refuse to serve while demanding harsh service from his subjects. When we look at our world today, we can see that servants are still not held in high regard.  Service jobs are typically the lowest paid.  The CNA who works hard every day at the dirtiest jobs in the health care field is barely able to support a family on his or her paycheck. People also tend to treat those in the service industry with contempt.  I've even heard Christians chewing out their waitress because their order wasn't exactly right. In the worldly sense, serving doesn't pay.

However, we know that in the spiritual realm, whoever wants to be first must be last.  Jesus doesn't just command service; he demonstrated it for us.  As wives and mothers, women have many opportunities to serve because our husbands and children need our service every day.  The challenge for me is to do so cheerfully.  Moms sometimes get the short end of the stick.  We eat cold breakfasts because we are refilling glasses of milk, wiping up spills, and putting yet more food on little plates.  We clean up all sorts of smelly messes, and we rarely get thanked.  We can choose to complain about these things, or we can be grateful to be alive another day to serve.  My goal today is to serve with a smile on my heart knowing that every time I do, I draw a little closer to having the heart of Christ.   

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(R), Copyright(c) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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