Mission Incarnate III: Service Incarnate

Advent means “coming”, and so when Jesus tells us in Mark 10:45 why the Son of Man came, He gives us His commentary on the meaning of Advent. For Jesus, Advent is about becoming a servant. Serving others was at the heart of Jesus’ mission, and thus is at the heart of our mission, as well. And so here are seven questions that help us understand service as a part of the Church’s mission.

1) Why did Jesus come? To serve. A servant is someone who carries out the will of someone else, and Jesus came to carry out God’s will on your behalf. It means that Jesus became a man not to get something from us, but to give to us. He didn’t come as a lord or a ruler, or even as a friend or a guest. He came to work, not to rest.

2) What is Christ’s service? He came “to give his life as a ransom for many”, to pay our debt and win our freedom. While His life was spent proclaiming good news, healing the sick, and setting the oppressed free, in His most important act of service He gave up His life on the cross to pay our debt of sin. Jesus came to serve, and His service consisted in giving his life through works of mercy, and ultimately dying on the cross as our redeemer.

3) That’s Jesus; but why are you here? You might think that since Jesus came to serve, your job is to be served. It is true that you should accept Christ’s service on your behalf and stop trying to ransom yourself. But that doesn’t mean that there is no service left to us! Jesus said that whoever would be great among you, should be the slave of all. Why? Because even Jesus did this. Are you greater than Jesus? Of course not. So don’t try a different path than Jesus took. Follow Him and become a servant.

4) What is your service? Two words: vocation and mercy. All too often, we divide our lives into sacred and secular, and think that we need to find special ways to serve God after our real work is done. But the primary expression of your service to others is through the calling or vocation that God has given you. So mothers, serve God by being a mom. Construction guys, build to the glory of God. Security people, when you make the world safer from thieves and bad guys, you are serving God.

The other aspect of our service is mercy. Christ spent His life in practical works of compassion by providing for the needs of people’s bodies. Christians who are following Jesus will be feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, welcoming the lonely, and visiting the sick and imprisoned. Such acts of service are an essential part of the mission of the church.

5) Whom do we serve? We are called to serve our neighbor, which Jesus defines in Luke 10 as anyone in need that God brings across our path. We cannot pretend that just because everyone in our church is taken care of that we have fulfilled our mission. We are called to serve anyone and everyone in need, and one of the results of serving those outside the church is that they will be drawn to the church by our good works.

6) What is the relationship between Christ’s work and ours? Two connections: Christ’s life-giving ransom is the foundation to all our good works, the only way that they can be accepted by God, and His life of service is our example of how we should be giving away our lives every day for others. A church who ignores Christ’s work is ignoring her own mission, and ignoring Jesus Himself. There are those in Annapolis who are hungry, cold, sick, lonely, and homeless, and Jesus came to put an end to that! So here is the last question (7): What are we doing to serve the needy in our city?

We are asking this question in order to be who we are, the Church of Jesus Christ, participating in His mission for the life of the world. Jesus has made us a part of His body, a body that came into the world not to be served, but to serve.

Posted on Wednesday, December 17, 2014 by CJ Bowen