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?
What would you add?
Sometimes I just get tired. If anything, the word journey better describes the walk with Christ more than a happy walk in the park. It gets hard at times. It gets fatiguing at times. A marathon, or maybe a triathlon, is more descriptive of what authentic Christianity is like, rather than a Caribbean cruise. Yes, I get tired sometimes. It is tiring to continue to pray for years and not see the results my heart longs for. It is just downright oppressive at times trying to calmly and lovingly speak toward Biblical righteousness in a culture that wholly embraces abortion, homosexual lifestyles, and philosophical relativity. It gets disheartening to see more and more people who wear the name of Christ in Western Europe and America drop Biblical morality like a bad losing streak in favor of liberal cultural and political correctness. (more…)
Today is Memorial Day in the US and while Christ followers have to keep central the reality that they are part of a bigger kingdom, the Bible still teaches us to give honor where honor is due. Memorial Day is such an occasion for that. On one hand, I’m not a fan of taking a Sunday morning church gathering and turning it into an American Patriotic service. Yet, on the other hand I do believe we can still give honor and recognition to those who have given the greatest sacrifice. In addition to that, as Kingdom citizens I believe we can learn some things from fallen vets and I think this clip from the Movie Black Hawk Down is illustrative of that. Some of you may remember the actual events from 1993 in Somalia. But in short, SFC Randall Shughart and MSG Gary Gordon willingly and purposefully gave their lives to save Black Hawk pilot Michael Durant. Lesson? As Kingdom citizens, we are to put Christ and others first. If you’ve wondered why authentic Christianity can sometimes seem lacking in the west, I believe it’s because we have forgotten something that Shughart and Gordon understood to the very core of their being. They knew that it was not about them, but others. So this Memorial Day, remember those who have fallen to save others. Remember the Christian Martyrs who gave their lives for Christ over the past 2000 years. Above all, remember our call as Citizens of the Kingdom of God to “deny ourselves and take up our Cross daily and follow Him.” What can you learn and implement from the example of Shughart and Gordon?