Hebrews 13:1-3 (NIV)
1 Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. 2 Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. 3 Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.
In this series, we will be taking time to grow deeper in our understanding of Christ-centered community by focusing on four aspects of how what we say with our words and do with our lives make profound impacts on the depth of the relationships we have with those around us. This week, we turn our attention to the idea of serving as a viable pathway to healthier, deeper, and far more meaningful community.
Mark 12 reads “love your neighbor as yourself,” which can seem simple enough, but it is often challenging to be the sacrificial people Jesus calls us to be. Anyone who perhaps isn’t a natural server is well aware of this fact. And so, when we wind up in a place where the last thing we want to do with ourselves is serve someone else, the questions of who, why, how, and to what end to serve can be challenging to address. But through these questions, we can become more fully aware of the vision God had for his people when he called them to “love one another as he first loved us”.
As we begin thinking about what it truly means to give of ourselves by serving those who are in need, it remains helpful to think of moments when we felt alone, vulnerable, and in need of someone to serve us. Take a few moments to think about times in your life when you felt you needed someone else to serve you. Think about what it meant to you, and what it may have taken for that person or group to serve you.
If Jesus truly calls us to love one another in such a way as this, it means that our job as servants to “the least of these” may be another vital way God’s grace gets to move through our broken world. Sometimes when we serve, however, we don’t see clear results of where our sacrificial actions have lead. We may never see a family enjoy a meal that we cooked for them, we may not see the children enjoying the playground we spent the day building for them. How does the possibility of not seeing the result of your service sit with you? Does it make serving more difficult, easier, or the same?
Jim explains in his sermon that we should expect nothing from those we serve, and this can be difficult to deal with, particularly in our consumer culture. When you think about serving, what question seems to come up the most as you serve? Does it concern you who it is you are serving, or what this sacrifice on behalf of someone else will bring you?
Read Hebrews 13:1-3. Jim mentioned this week that service begins and ends with love. So, it seems fitting that the passage used this week would open with “keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters.” Here the author of Hebrews is suggesting that service directly correlates to an understanding of the degree of love we feel for those around us. In fact, the author suggests to love others as our own siblings. In your experience with serving, whether as an individual or with a group, how difficult was it for you to truly serve by such a love? Does the idea that we should love others in such a way challenge your notions of service? How so?
When it says in the book of Matthew that Jesus came to serve and not be served it is relating the idea that God first loved us, and it is by his love that we are able to serve “the least of these”. Do you think it remains possible to serve others fully without an understanding of this idea? Do you think it makes service more impactful, or does it make a difference at all?
Jim mentioned toward the end of this week's sermon three things that we can expect to see when we love others by serving them: first, we experience the joy God expressed through us by living out his calling. Second, we experience the joy on the faces of those we serve. Lastly, we experience our own joy which accumulates out of the previous two. How do you feel about these three experiences? In your own life, how have these three different experiences panned out tangibly in serving others? Were there any times you didn’t fully feel one or more of these three forms of joy?
Considering that our work in serving others is yet to be completed, what are some of the ways you as an individual can be the hands and feet of Christ in your own life?
If you are interested in “kicking up some dust” alongside Summit, join us for niceSERVE on November 12th! You sign up as an individual, a Connect Group, with your family, or gather a crew of friends!
You can also visit our website to find out more about how you can use your gifts and talents to serve around Summit.