Pastoral Perspectives

Can Don’t Serve Or Not?

The month of October is almost up. Have you responded to the call to serve the Lord in 2012? If you have not, I urge you to do so. Let me share with you some reasons why we should be involved in this aspect of church life. First and foremost, we serve because Christ first served us. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10.45) In the upper room, before He went to the cross, Jesus washed His disciples’ feet and after which, He instructed them to follow His example by washing each other’s feet. “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” (John 13.14-15)As the Servant King, He has served us by dying on the cross for our sins. Shouldn’t we, out of our gratitude for what He has done for us, follow in His footsteps to serve one another? Our love for the Lord has to be expressed in acts of obedience and service. The sinful woman who came to Jesus with the understanding that she could be forgiven must have been so overwhelmed by the love extended to her that she gave extravagant service to Jesus. “She began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.” (Luke 7.38) It vividly showed the extent of her love for Jesus. What about us? How much do we love the Lord? It may sound cliché but it is true – if we are not willing to sacrifice some of our precious time and energy in the midst of demanding schedules to serve the Lord, then our love for Him is really called into question.

It is God’s intention that we use the spiritual gifts that we have been given for the common good. In 1 Corinthians 12, it is not a coincidence that the section on ‘Spiritual Gifts’ precedes the section on ‘One Body, Many Parts’. As different parts of the body of Christ, we have the responsibility in using our spiritual gifts to build up the whole body. Paul told the Corinthian Church that “those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable” (1 Cor. 12.22). This means that Christians who seem to have less important functions in the body of Christ are actually indispensable, which means that everyone is indispensable! Everyone has a part to play. Does it ever occur to you that if one part of the body does not carry out its function, the body of Christ is worse of?

Service is one of the important spiritual disciplines alongside Bible reading, prayer, fasting, worship, etc. Spiritual disciplines are platforms by which we can grow in our walk with God. How so? When we serve, we need to make sacrifices. We may have to make adjustments to our schedules which will inevitably cause some inconveniences. The ministry time may clash with our favourite TV programme or our weekly exercise routine or our catch up time with friends. Making adjustments can be painful especially when we are creatures of habit but reordering our priorities can enable us to know what it means to seek first His kingdom. When we step out of our comfort zone to do things that will stretch us, it will help us to be more reliant on the Lord and drive us to our knees and in the process, we learn to exercise our faith and witness His grace at work in our weaknesses, which will further strengthen our faith. Serving together also gives us the opportunity to show love, to exercise patience, to bear with each other’s idiosyncrasies, to forgive when we are hurt by some insensitive remarks, to speak the truth in love to each other, to strive to keep the unity of the spirit. Do you realise that in the process of serving together, we have the opportunity to obey so many commands given in the Word of God? Service will transform us into the likeness of our Lord Jesus.

Let me address some reasons why people do not want to serve. For those who don’t think they have any spiritual gifts, don’t believe Satan’s lie. Go and read 1 Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4. I know different people are in different seasons of life and there are some seasons when you are so busy that you don’t even have time for yourself. I think of someone caring for an aged parent and finding it difficult to leave the parent alone while coming to church for ministry. I think of those who have very young children and coming for Sunday service is already a challenge. Then I think of those who are working really hard and upgrading themselves academically and professionally so much so that they don’t have any energy left when it comes to serving the Lord. Can we be creative in coming up with ways to serve the Lord while still staying true to our responsibilities? I do know of a full time mother with a very young child. She might not be able to join the choir or serve in the tuition ministry or go to Rengit because she constantly needs to be there for her young child. But she has gathered some mothers with young children and started a support group for them, some of whom are non-Christians. Imagine the great opportunities for ministry! If our schedule is tight for a season, I think it is fair to be involved in an area of service that does not take up too much time rather than not being involved at all. However, if our schedules are perpetually tight, then it may not be a bad idea to start looking for another job because if one has no time for service, he is likely not able to find time for Bible reading and prayer. Do we dare to take that step of faith? And for those who are physically not able, won’t you be the prayer warriors of the church? Time and time again, we hear of testimonies of those who are too weak to even make it to church but they continue to be very much part of the church as they constantly intercede and bring the needs of the local and universal church to the Lord in prayer.

I close by sharing with you a brother that I met who hails from Korea. He is new to the True Way community but he is already actively serving as a U12 teacher. He told me that he has been serving in his church back in Korea and he doesn’t want to stop serving even when he and his family has moved here because he doesn’t want to get lazy. I was greatly moved by his love for the Lord and his desire to keep up with this spiritual discipline of service. If you ask me, “Can don’t serve or not?” After all that I have written, my reply will be, “You say leh?”

Pastor Kien Seng

October 23, 2011