What does it mean to serve others?
|You are going to find this strange, but … I don’t really like “people.” That of course, does not mean that I dislike people, just that, for the most part, I'd rather not deal with people. Individuals, as such, are okay, but not “people.” I like my wife and my favorite grandson. My other close relatives I “love,” especially in the sense that I don’t want harm to come to them, and I hope for the best for them. My actual inclination when it comes to “people” is to avoid them. I much more prefer to get into my study and write a book or an article, play a video game, pray, study the Bible, surf the web, or any of many other self-satisfying activities. I hate that I have to waste time sleeping, and I don’t want to be disturbed when I am doing one of the above activities in my study. I enjoy being alone, with the exception of wanting my wife and favorite grandson around, and even then, including both of them, I tend to want to be alone more than not. I have found that when I am alone, my thoughts are clearer, I feel calmer, I seem to rest better and more, and I get a greater sense of accomplishment.
On the other hand, God loves “people.” The Father sent His Son, our Lord, to be born as a human so that He would die (!?) for these “people.” His intention was to save some of them so that He could take them to be in heaven, with Him, in due time. He created “people” to live on this mud-hole-of-a-planet so that He could interact with them and, in the end, have some of those “people” spend eternity with Him. Humans should be grateful and thankful that God is God, and that I am not. I would not have wasted any time on “people.” “People” tend to be selfish, egoistic, manipulative, self-serving, and too often, this is on their “best” days. Did I mention that I don’t like “people?” Nevertheless, God has chosen not to let all those bad qualities of “people” stop Him from accomplishing His plans in their favor. No matter how much “people” reject Him, turn their backs on Him, Ignore Him, and so forth, He continues to love them. I would have nuked the planet long ago and gotten it all over with. Still, God loves “people,” and He wants them saved for His kingdom.
This is where I come in. You see, God is not going to come down here again, and do the work of reaching those “people” for His kingdom. He wants me to do that. He wants me to take time from my “important” activities, and serve “people!” I want to stay in my study and play my videos games, oops, I mean, read the Bible and pray. Cough, cough. Insert smiley face here. He wants me to counsel “people.” He wants me to help “people.” He wants me to serve “people.” He wants me to love “people.” He wants me to give to “people.” He wants me to do the opposite of what I want to do with “people.” I want to do nothing with “people,” and He wants me to do something; to serve “people.” The worst part is that He not only wants me to serve “people,” but He wants me to want to serve “people,” just because He wants that from me.
I first came to know God as my Lord. To me, that meant and still does, that He is the boss. Everything must be done the way He wants it done, just because He said so. My opinions and feelings were irrelevant. He was not asking me to like doing what He wanted done, He just wanted me to want to do it because He wanted me to want to. I understood that from the beginning. I grew up in a home with a manipulative and controlling mother. If you did not do things the way she wanted you to do them, she would beat you and knock you into next week. If you did things the way she wanted, she allowed you not to be beaten for that moment. She was the boss, and that was it. I understood that and that knowledge saved me from many beatings. I just did what she told me to do, and I was not beaten or abused in return.
When I first gave my life to the Lord. I expected somewhat the same kind of relationship, except that He kept assuring me that He would not abuse me. He told me that He loved me, but I did not know what “love” was, so that didn’t mean much to me. He told me that He was my Father, but my father left us when I was three years old. To me fathers were cowards that left their children because they were so selfish that they looked out for their own happiness. So, when God told me He was my Father, that did not mean much to me as well. But, when He showed me that He was my Lord (the boss, the one in charge, the one in control, the one who gave the orders), I immediately understood.
I learned that God is God, and I am not God. He tells me what He wants done, and I have only two options: 1) to obey, and get blessed for my obedience, or 2) Disobey. If I disobey, He will still get done what He wants done, but I will lose out on the blessing. So, I obey. That’s it. That’s my outlook on my relationship with God. The only thing which has changed since those early years in my walk with God is that I have learned to “want to do” the things that God wants me to do, because I want Him to like me, as well as love me. I know that if God tells me to do something, that means that He will be pleased with me when I obey Him, and I want to please Him. Why do I want to please him? Because I am selfish. I want Him to bless me, to prosper me, to make my life less troublesome, and to meet the desires of my heart. And, I know that He will not do that unless I first “seek His kingdom and righteousness.” That is not a problem for me. I learned early on that everything has a price or condition. Nobody does anything for nothing, and that includes God. He is not doing this whole creation thing for nothing. In due time, He wants to end up in eternity with all those “people” who chose to believe on the name of Jesus Christ for their salvation. How does He want to use me in all of His plans, you might ask? By serving “people.”
I gave my life to the Lord at age 32. Immediately, God started working on me. He used my pastors to shape me, to prepare me, to train me, and, most importantly, to teach me submission. I learned quickly that the only “right” I would ever have as a Christian was to be “called a son of God,” other than that, I have no rights. I don’t have the right to say no to God when He tells me to do something. I noticed that other Christians seemed to be different. They would obey God when it suited them, and they would not when they did not want to obey. They seemed to get away with this behavior, but when I tried it, God would “spank” me and remind me who was The Lord. I remember sometimes feeling as though God was not being fair. Why would He discipline me when I fell to obey Him, but seem to let others get away with it? I wanted to argue and complain, but I would remember how my mother dealt with that, and decided that I did not want to get a God angry at me as well. My mother could be quite abusive, but a God could deal terrible things at me and I would not be able to even run away from Him. No, I just obeyed. Slowly but surely, I began to catch on. He was training me. He was preparing me for something that I did not, at that time, know He was going to demand of me. He needed me to not only comply with His demands and instructions, but to want to do what He wanted me to do, just because He wanted me to do them. To become His servant willingly. To become His “bond-servant.”
In Jesus’ day, when someone owed money to someone else and they could not pay it off at the due time, that person became the slave of the one to whom the money was owed. In some cases, the amount of money owed was so large that the slave remained in service for many years. In some of those cases, at the end of the time served, the person who was the slave realized that their life turned out to be better as a slave that it had been when they were free. In those cases, the “slaves” chose to remain as slaves for the rest of their lives. They became known as “bond-slaves,” because they willingly choose to be bound to their masters. God wanted me to willingly chose to be His bond-servant. I thought about my life before I came to know Him as my Lord. I could not think of even one reason why I would want to go back to that kind of life. So, I gave myself to Him, to be His property. He owns me, and I am so happy He does. But, that brings us back to the point I made at the beginning, God loves “people,” and He wants me to “love” “people” too. Thank God He does not require me to like them, I just have to “love” them.
The great thing about all of this is that I am not confused as to what He means by “love.” Thank God I don’t have to have any particular feelings for any of these “people,” as I “love” them. I just need to do what God wants me to do with them. By doing that, I am “loving” them, and even better, He is loving them through me. Now He, God, does have feelings for those “people.” Me, I have the ability to “love” someone without ever liking them. Why? Because God has taught me that to “love” someone all I need to do is do what He wants me to do for them. I can handle that. When I serve someone in the manner that God wants from me, I also do it because I want to do that for Him. So the “people” I serve feel as though it is I who is “loving” them, when in actuality it is God who is loving them through me. I don’t have to work so hard at “loving” “people,” because I don’t have to like them to accomplish that.
All of this helps me to be a better servant to God. A “good and faithful servant.” This is because it does not depend on my feelings, opinions, or wants. I am His property, and that means He can do with me and mine as He deems fit. I only pray and hope that He does not allow me to suffer too much. My life is His. My wife is His. My children are His. Everything I even consider mine is His. I believe that being His bond-servant is way better than me being free to live this life in whatever manner I believe is right and good.