Many people are involved in a local church wherever they live. Involvement truly ranges from one spectrum to the other. To some being involved means they show up each week right after the church gathering begins and leave just as soon as it's over. To some, regular attendance and giving financially is involvement enough. Of course to others, it means knowing people, attending a community group, asking people out for coffee, understanding the ethos of their church. To be certain, if you asked 100 different people what it means to be involved in their church, you would probably get 100 different responses.
I believe a truly healthy way to determine someones involvement is to watch how they serve.
Mark 10:45 says, "Even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many." I've had this verse in my heart since college, but lately it has taken on new depth of meaning to me. It is extremely powerful.
Jesus served by feeding 5000 hungry people, calming storms, casting out demons, healing sick people, washing dirty feet, raising a dead man to life, playing with children, rescuing women in distress, and most importantly dying on a cross. This list is not even a fraction of the ways the Bible talks about Jesus loving and serving. Jesus did not serve out of convenience, having enough time, because the needs were obvious to the people around him, or out of obligation.
One of the lines leaders often hear is, "Let me know if there is any way I can help." Most people's intent in offering their service is sincere, but often there is no meat to the bones of the offer. This has been very troubling to me over the last couple of months. Many times I've heard offers of help, but all too often when an opportunity of service presents itself, it is passed over.
Service within authentic community is difficult! It requires getting your hands dirty, missing fun things you may have planned, taking out the trash when you would rather be holding the glittery gold microphone on stage. Our lives are messy which means serving will be messy...it is rarely convenient, there is no glory to be had, and it may/will cost you much.
As Second Mile starts a community center there are many unglamorous tasks to be done. We all have visions of community changing grandeur, but much mud digging and brick laying must be accomplished. Meetings and emails may be boring and tedious. Writing letters of support takes time. Praying for God's will to be done in the vision of this center takes stamina. We are in the beginning of the parable of the talents. God has given us a vision, and the first requirements are to be faithful with the ideas, writing, and praying. As we are faithful, we will be given the talents to clean, paint, and prepare. As we are faithful, we will be given the talents of teaching, planting, caring, and being part of God changing lives. Let's not dig a hole and bury the first talents in a field to wait to get to participate in tasks that bring us personal fulfillment or even glory.
On a more personal serving level, what are ways God asks you to serve? Do you allow your life to be inconvenienced, to have plans changed, to give not out of your emotional or financial surplus, but out of your own perceived need? Could it be possible God may ask you to serve in such a way that you have no capacity on your own so that you can learn to more fully rely on Him? When you are spending time with your community do you wait to be asked or do you look around for tasks to be accomplished? Are you willing to move tables, take out trash, talk with someone who makes you feel awkward? Do you authentically offer to help or has it become a cultural nicety in your communication? Are you someone who offers to help, but misses opportunities to act on your offers?
These questions may seem straight-forward or even harsh, but think deeply about how you serve. Service is a part of the radical minimum standard of following Jesus. Ask the God Who Serves to give you tremendous insight and ability to serve those around you. You will be surprised in the ways he asks you to serve because more than likely, it will come at the most inopportune time. Are you willing? If not, don't ask. But if you are willing, get ready. You've got some unexpected, inconvenient, and totally Sovereign appointments coming your way.
Mark 10:45 Even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom to many.