If you opened this article hoping it would be a reflection on the 70s British sitcom of the same name; my apologies. I’ve never seen an episode!
But if I haven’t lost your attention, let’s talk about Christian service.
What image comes to mind as I say that?
Does Christian service evoke a picture of the globe-trotting missionary? Or the enthusiastic kids’ group leader? Does it refer to arranging flowers for a church service? Or serving coffee at that same service?
Well, yes. And… no.
We’ve just started our Sunday services in the book of Philippians, and I was intrigued to read this week that Paul and Timothy, who are writing the letter, open it with the phrase:
“Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus.” (Phil 1:1).
Why is that a surprise? Because for Paul and Timothy, serving Jesus isn’t something you do, it’s something you are.
The missionary, the kids’ group leader, the flower arranger and the coffee server are all serving Jesus in their various ways. But if we picture them serving Jesus only as they do those things, we’ve missed Paul and Timothy’s point.
The much bigger image here is that those specific ways to serve flow out of an identity – the identity of being a servant of Jesus.
Which, if I’m honest, gets a bit close to home. Literally. The temptation for us all in lockdown is to constrain our thinking – as our living is already restricted – to within the four walls of our home.
And if we think that we serve Jesus when we’re “out there” – at church on a Sunday, or doing a specific ministry job – then it’s all too easy to put serving Jesus on hold.
But for Paul and Timothy, being a servant of Jesus is everywhere, all the time. It’s the identity of a Christian. Are you serving Jesus in lockdown?
Philippians spells out something of how we might do that.
Love for the people we’re at home with, and for our church family, must feature today on our agenda (Phil 2:2). Praying for each other and for our church mission partners mustn’t cease (1:9-11, 1:19). Helping one another in our church family to live for Jesus must be in our minds (1:27). Pressing on to know Jesus in every moment of life is key (3:10-12).
Which might all sound a bit much.
Until we realise that you can’t be a servant of Jesus unless you’ve been served by Jesus. That same word “servant” is the word Paul sings about Jesus in his hymn in 2:7.
Jesus “made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant.”
And he did it for you and for me. Are you being served by him?
Christian service flows from being a servant. And being a servant flows from being served by Jesus. Every other Master will make demands of us which cost us. But, Jesus is a Master who serves us and saves us.
Please, don’t resolve to serve Jesus by yourself. Instead, ask him daily to fill you with a love for him and knowledge of how he’s served you, and then let him mould you as a servant in his likeness.
With love in Christ,