A week ago Sunday, we participated in a church-wide event called Ministry Madness. It was an amazing opportunity to see the many areas of ministry that support what happens at Grace on Sunday mornings. And it was great to see so many people laughing and enjoying themselves as they competed in games and activities that were a part of the event. Over a hundred people turned in ministry surveys and leaders are following up with them this week. A big question is whether people will in fact move from “interest” to “commitment.” The motivation that the Bible provides for doing so may surprise you.
In the New Testament, next to Jesus, no one’s service stands out more than the apostle Paul. And yet he made a puzzling statement about serving God:
The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. - Acts 17:24-25
God doesn’t need anything and so there’s a sense in which no one could possibly serve Him. We don’t “help God out” by our service. If He could create the heavens with a word and part the Red Sea by His power, surely He doesn’t need our help to change diapers in the nursery. And yet the God who cannot be served, commands us to serve Him. What’s going on?
The Bible teaches that Christ died to set us free from the weight of always trying to be good enough and do good enough to somehow please God. And yet it warns us against using that freedom selfishly:
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. Galatians 5:13
When we serve God, far from helping God out, we’re actually becoming who we were made to be, and loosening our hearts free from the idols that keep causing us to stumble. Jesus taught that “no one can serve two masters” (Matthew 6:24) and when we serve God we express our love and loyalty to Jesus as our Saviour and renounce the selfishness that otherwise competes for our soul. And if that weren’t enough, the Bible promises reward and blessing as well (Mark 10:29-30).
Don’t serve God to help Him out. Don’t serve God to earn His acceptance. But serve God with the conviction that this is what you were made to do – each of us faithfully doing quiet acts of service with the understanding that they are significant because of who they glorify. When we do, our allegiance is a little clearer, our love is a little purer, and our souls are freed a little more from the sin that so easily entangles.
In awe of Him,