When you listen to some people talk you would think that it’s the church’s job to serve them. They treat the church as if it’s a business that’s supposed to provide a service, and if it does not they can point in indignant tones at the church that had apparently failed them.
The problem with this view is not that not only is it unfair (it is), or that it is harsh and judgmental (it is) but because it misses the very essence of what it means to be a Christian.
Jesus puts it this way: “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves” (Luke 22:25-27).
Note Jesus’ words: “Let the greatest among you become as the younger,” “the leader as one who serves,” “I am among you as one who serves.”
Francis of Assisi put it beautifully:
Lord make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is discord, unity.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is error, truth.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is sadness, joy
Where there is darkness, light.
Grant that I might not seek to be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned
It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
To be Christian is to serve. To be Christian is to see to the well being of others. At times those others will be grimy and sinful and unworthy. The church is the channel through which we serve, each other and our community. I have no doubt that the church you are a part of is imperfect and lacking in some way.
You can point fingers and complain, or you can make it better with a servant heart. But please note, not to do so is not to live the Christian life. A Christian serves, or he is not Christian. A Christian forgives, or he is not Christian. Our choice is not to be a Christian who serves, or a Christian who does not serve; our choice is to be Christian, or to not be Christian, for, make no mistake, a Christian serves.