These physical acts of service are indeed serving people and serving the church, they are roles that are needed and I admire those called to do these acts. But I also feel like sometimes there's a whole huge handful of people that get lost in the church or are seen as outsiders or judged to be baby christians just because they aren't over involved in act of service ministries...or just because their service isn't spotlighted on Sunday mornings. I never want somebody to feel like an outsider. I never want anybody to feel judged, especially in a church! I never want people to feel they are just a number or aren't important because they aren't in a leadership role at church. I remember when I was a baby christian...and I believe my other family members were baby christians at that time too...we'd see families in church (one I can think of specifically) that were involved in EVERY possible opportunity to serve that there was... and they just seemed to be very prideful in how many items they had on their church involvement resume. I felt a sort of arrogance in them when they were asked to speak about the missions trips or opportunities they had had to serve. And I believe baby christians see this and get totally turned off. I remember thinking, oh man, to be a christian I have to be involved in ______ and do __ and __ and __ and I remember feeling overwhelmed. I remember mom and grandma telling me that God looks at the heart and that I should let Him do the judging - but at a time when I was forming my views on christianity, I was discouraged by people like this family.
As I've grown, I have come to learn that being a christian is all about Jesus, making Him the priority and living life for Him.... I am so thankful God kept my heart seeking Him long enough to get past these first negative experiences I might have had in my early church. I hope that when others have a negative experience like I did, that they will continue to seek out God long enough to learn the Truth. We did eventually switch churches when I was in high school - there really was a lot of sin and negative in this other church that I basically grew up in... and nobody seemed to encourage each other away from these sins, nobody was kept accountable.
I pray that our church doesn't come across as a "we are better than you because we are christians and we have done ____" attitude. And I pray that baby christians in all churches can look past sinful actions in people, to realize that we are all sinners - and christianity isn't about DOing or ACTing a certain way - it's all about Jesus and letting Him create a new spirit in you. When Jesus is in you, there is no room for pride, when He comes in, He takes over everything and therefore gets the credit for any good that shows. Jesus is the only way to heaven, we can't earn our way to heaven, we can't earn our way to have a relationship with God. The ONLY way to God is through Jesus John 14:6. Period. The fact that you are saved is just the beginning though - you haven't arrived when you accept Jesus, you have just started. One of the steps to becoming a mature christian is figuring out and sharpening the talents and gifts you've been given, and then figuring out how to use those gifts to help others become fully devoted to Jesus Christ! That is the purpose and vision of our church, and that is the purpose and vision for me. I want to become fully devoted to Jesus Christ, and I want to help others do the same. Service is of course an essential piece of growing as a christian....but it isn't the start, it isn't the only piece.
I hope that I never judge somebody's relationship with God, based on their involvement in acts of service. We each have our own gifts and talents...and a person might have found a way to use his or her talents in a way that I will never even see. It's a behind the scenes act of service that may not be rewarded until heaven.
This month marks our 4 year anniversary of attending Southside - and it has just been great. We love the church. ...Brandon and I haven't been involved in a lot of the traditional ways to serve a church here.... but God is working on us to see where our talents can be served more. Our lack of traditional involvement is in no way a reflection at all on our love for the church or our closeness with God. We have been working on ourselves and our relationship with God - and we have faith that our devotion to Him and our personal growth will be a benefit to the church in some way.
The way I see it, not everybody can be a deacon, in the choir, in the plays, a sunday school teacher, etc. etc. in fact the majority of any church is NOT going to be in one of these positions -- I hope to continue to find a way that I can serve and be used and help the majority regular church members find their special talents too and how to use them.
I'm not sure why this is on my heart.... I guess it's just because of recent interactions I've had with people with the catholic, 'deeds are needed' type mentality. Growing up, up north, I was surrounded by catholics, who really judged people's relationships with the Lord on their church involvement resume, or good deed resume...and mom and grandma always made sure I understood that isn't what being a christian is all about. They always told me that service is essential when a person is growing with the Lord - but until that service is truly what God calls you to do -- up until that point, it is a selfish act, and people will recognize that and your service won't be blessed.
We are to reach out to others...but service is not about doing something to be able to feel good about ourselves. I also believe acts of service is only one way to be of service. I believe serving really is all about giving of ourselves depending on our talents. It's not just about missions trips or taking part in putting together Sunday morning services - sometimes it's just giving of words, money, quality time..... sometimes it's just working on ourselves so that we can always be a great representation of Southside (our church) and of Jesus.
I just hope that I can help others realize that just because they haven't been blessed with musical talents, or acting talents or the ability to do missions trips (maybe at this time in their lives they aren't able to) it doesn't mean they aren't an essential part to our church. Ya know? They are still very important to the church, they were brought there for a reason, and they are essential to helping us grow. God uses networking/ exponential growth to grow his church --- but that exponential growth only happens when everybody in church realizes it is their responsibility, just like the leaders in the church, to bring others to Jesus! Imagine the growth our religion could have if each christian just brougth ONE other person to Jesus! WOW! I can't even imagine what that statistic is. Imagine if EVERY christian that was a member of a church tithed 10% of their income like the Bible commands! WOW!
My point is......We each have unique talents - I hope we can help each other find unique ways to use our unique talents to serve the church. I want to open my mind to new ways to serve the church. I want to figure out new opportunities for people to 'serve'. In the same token, I don't want people to get involved in an activity they really were not called to do. Ex: If you weren't given a singing talent, you probably shouldn't join the choir just to add it to your church involvement resume. haha So let's really seek out our own God given talents and figure out what specific roles God has for us specifically. He HAS blessed each of us with a talent and spiritual gift that could glorify Him --- a lot of people just haven't figured out what that talent and spiritual gift is yet!
I think that is all that is on my heart tonight. I am looking forward to church tomorrow....the fellowship and worshipping our Lord!!!! :)
Sorry if there are tons of grammar errors and weird sentences - I am sleepy and actually headed to bed now haha at 9:30 on a Saturday night - what a dork! :)