Serving the Summons and Choosing to Serve!

Serving the Summons and Choosing to Serve!

I received a Jury Summons in the mail the other day.  My first thought when I saw the envelope and purpose within was not a nice one.  My angst was probably driven by a number of reasons.  I was spinning a dozen or more mental and emotional plates all at the same time that day and the thought of driving to downtown Houston in early morning traffic is a favorite of no one.  This duty just added to my present depletion.  Finding a way out of it was probably my second thought.  Reschedule? Quickly move out of state? Join the Marines?  Fake symptoms of the West Nile virus?  After all . . . I had been in Africa three years ago.

When the dust cleared and after a couple of days of processing, I was able to reassess the situation and reminded myself of how blessed I am to be an American citizen.  I have often suggested that the best education for American teenagers would be a requirement to live for a month or more in a third world socialist country before graduation. That would sure reduce the amount of complaining going on these days.  In addition though, I’m also thinking that this might be a good thing for many Americans of every age.

Despite whatever problem we might be dealing with, I can assure you there are other places on the globe where your conditions and contextual expectations would be much worse.  I also thought about whoever the poor souls might be who are facing legal trials over the next month and possibly the ones I’d be expected to serve on a jury for.  If I were in their shoes; would I want someone doing everything they could to get out of this role, or someone being still and compassionately listening to all sides of the case and truly working to discern accurate justice?  Honestly, I’d probably want someone like me who is trying to follow Jesus as a juror member of whom I knew would be praying for wisdom.  Thus, that is what I needed to be.

This whole process also caused me to look at the local church as well.  Often times we look at the local body of Christ as something which exists for us.  We ask questions of the church in regard to what we are going to get out of it.  What are the others going to do for us?  How are we going to get our needs and desires met?  However, when there is a need for our attention or time, we suddenly become too busy with other life pursuits to lend a hand.  Sometimes this is just a sad reality. I’ve seen it. I’ve done it.

Yet when we look at what the authentic church is and what Christ calls for, we have new reason to serve instead of firstly being served.  In numerous places in the Bible we see illustrations of the true church being comprised of many different people who all fit together tightly being blessed by each other and blessing others. Then of course there is the pattern of Jesus who said that he did not come to “be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many” and “greater love has no one than this; that he lay down his life for his friends.” Truly, Jesus demonstrated the greatest act of service by dying for your sins and rising again.  Jesus offered salvation and showed us a new way.

America, or any country for that matter, would be a better place when its citizens were first looking out for others rather than for number one.  This application is obviously true for followers of Christ who have tasted the grace of Jesus. The more we look for ways to serve instead of expecting to receive, the more the love of Christ will expand and in fact, we will all be blessed by this sacrificial fruit.

Yes, there will be tough times when our schedules must be interrupted or our desires set aside for others. But the end game will be much more beautiful for all concerned.

What about you?  How can you serve others today?

Pondering Politics and Piety. Part III.

If I were to entitle this post anything else, I suppose it would be something like, “The Last Will and Testament of a Young Republican.”  That’s right; I was once a Young Republican a long time ago. But things are different now and it doesn’t have anything to do with age.  Now before my “Lefty” friends out there get all excited, you need to know that I’m not defecting to your political party either. Rather I’m pressing the cancel button on the whole system as far as my involvement goes.  While this doesn’t mean I’m never going to vote on issues I believe in, it does mean a drastic and purposeful decision to refrain from direct political involvement and commentary.  Even on my Face Book page I’ve listed the “Kingdom of Heaven” for my political views.  As followers of Christ we have to keep in mind that we’re part of His eternal Kingdom which supersedes the greatest Kingdoms of men.  But is this stand of total avoidance too radical?  After all, it would seem from the scripture that politics is a freedom issue.  We even noted in Part I. of this series that we can’t separate the sacred from the secular and this would apply to politics as well.  Yet considering the transitory nature of this realm, I do believe that this is an issue that Christians should seriously wrestle with.  As for me, I’ve drawn the line in the sand to abstain and here are at least four reasons why. (more…)

Pondering Politics and Piety. Part II

Tonight the President of the United States is slated to give his annual State of The Union Address.  I’m not sure which one will be more fun to watch; his speech or the bantering on Face Book that will follow.  When it comes to dialogue on politics, it’s interesting to see all the Christ following friends I have who sit on opposite sides of the political aisle.  They claim allegiance to Christ, but are polls apart in politics.  But that will be part of our discussion next week when we wind this subject down and look at some of the personal reasons why I don’t swim in this pool much anymore.  It is also worth noting that Jesus actually spoke very little about politics even though Conservatives and Liberals claim Him as their guy at times.  In fact, we see virtually nothing of Jesus giving a commentary on the Roman government of his day.  That’s because the mission of Christ is beyond that of any temporal regime.  Yet we noted in Part I. that as citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven we’re not to cloister ourselves away from society, but rather to influence it.  So what does the Bible say about our relationship to the Kingdoms of this world?   Here are some pointers we should consider and while my list below is not exhaustive, it’s something to start with.  (more…)

Town Hall Meeting anyone???

phpThumb_generated_thumbnailYesterday while driving back from a preaching assignment I spent some time running the dial and came across a talk show detailing some of the big headlined Town Hall meetings across the US. If you haven’t picked up a newspaper or watched any of the media coverage recently, you might not know about the stories of the rebellious town hall meetings that have been erupting over President Obama’s health care reform. Some of the meetings were calm and orderly. But for others there was yelling, speaking out of turn, and even some evictions.

As for my opinion of the health reform, I tend to lean towards less government as I lived in the former Soviet Union for a while and have seen the “ills” entailed within an atheist socialistic system. But I wasn’t present at any of the town hall meetings. I didn’t watch any of the CNN stories, nor did I follow my elected leader’s websites for the latest on Obama’s strategy. Instead, I listened to it for the first time on talk radio and after a few minutes I actually CHANGED THE DIAL. (more…)