Situated to Serve

(Please read John 13:1-17.  My comments are based on the NIV.)

Message: No matter your circumstance, God has situated you to be able to serve others.  Faith and love are required to actually make it happen.

Steven Grant of Laurier Heights Baptist Church, wrote a sermon entitled, “Nobody Ever Volunteers To Take Down The Christmas Tree.”

“So the presents are all unwrapped, some even returned and exchanged already. The leftover turkey is starting to turn a funny color and let off an unpleasant odor, and since nobody has eaten any in the last couple of days anyway, it is quickly headed for the garbage. The toys have long since been torn from the boxes and had their initial use, and some already seem to have outlived the child’s interest in them, and so they’ll go into a box labeled ‘toys-we-seldom-play-with’. The needles from the Christmas tree are falling freely now, making a big mess all over the floor, and no matter what we try, un-decorating the tree is never going to be anything other than a chore that nobody really wants to do. Nothing to look forward to now except the credit card bills…”

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Based on Grant’s observation, we might say that the highest form of servanthood is doing what nobody else volunteers to do.  That’s certainly the example Jesus gave us in John 13:1-17.  In fact, that’s just what Jesus said at the end of the experience: “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”

In that culture, washing the feet of a guest was considered to be a basic act of hospitality.  However, the job was typically given to the lowest of the low – the servant who fell at the bottom of the ladder of authority.

So when Jesus wrapped a towel around Himself and began to wash his disciples’ feet, it’s easy to imagine Peter was not the only one to protest.  Jesus volunteered to do the job no one else would have volunteered to do.  This is the example He set for us.  In fact, the text says it was a demonstration of the FULL EXTENT of Jesus’ love.

Jesus has called us to serve so we can meet needs in the short term and so we may be an example to others in the longer term.  There is no witness like the witness that accompanies acts of love and service.

“Our greatest fear should not be failure, but of succeeding at something that doesn’t really matter.”  – New Tribes Missionary

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             “I sat down with our senior high kids awhile ago to discuss our plans for youth activities for this year. I expected to get some ideas of fun things to do, lets go bowling, laser tag, whitewater rafting, etc. Instead, they asked me to find two Friday night events each month – half of all the things we would do – where they could go and do volunteer things for others, like preparing and serving meals to street people.

“Normally, if kids can’t go bowling or do something fun, they say ‘Sorry, can’t make it.’ But this time, I had one senior high student who couldn’t come and was so mad she said ‘That’s it, I can’t come so I’m sending some money to pay for the meal.’ She sent me an envelope, and I thought this is probably $20 or so, that is great – it’ll really help pay for the meal.  I opened the envelope from this grade ten student – there was $60 in it. That’s a lot of money for me, let alone for a grade 10 student!

“Another student came with us, and asked me how we were going to pay for these meals. I told him about this one student’s contribution, and said we’d do some fundraisers to pay for the rest. That Sunday that other student handed me an envelope, and said it was to help pay for some of the meals we were doing for these street people. I tossed it on my desk, again expecting $20-$40. I opened it the next day to deal with it – there was $250.  From a grade 10 student. I talked to them later – I said ‘that’s an awful lot of money – are you sure?’

“‘Yes, absolutely.’

“’Where did you get that much money?’ Do you know what the response was?

“He said, ‘I’ve been saving up for a snowboard, but those people need to eat way more than I need a snowboard.’”

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