A Different Kind of Serving
If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. (John 12:26)
To participate in God’s work you must be a servant. As God’s servant, Jesus came to to accomplish God’s will in redeeming humanity; Paul described His humble attitude and commended it to us: “Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus, who….emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave…..He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death”(Philippians 2:5-8)
We are to develop the servant attitude of Christ that requires humility and obedience. In His instructions to His disciples about servanthood, Jesus described His own role: “Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life-a ransom for many”(Matthew 20:27-28)
Jesus also explained our relationship to Him: “As the Father has sent me, I also send you”(John 20:21). When you respond to God’s invitation to salvation, you join Him in His mission of world redemption. The salvation God offers comes with a corresponding summons to be on mission with Him. In this new relationship you move into a servant role with God as your Lord and Master.
The common understanding of a servant is someone who approaches the master and says, “ Master, what do you want me to do?” The master tells him, and the servant goes off and does it. But that is not the biblical picture of a servant of God. Being God’s servant is quite different from working for a human master. While an ordinary servant labors for his master, God works through His servants.
The biblical portrayal of God’s servant is more like a potter and clay(Jeremiah 18:1-6) To be useful, the clay has to be pliable. And once it is made into a vessel, its usefulness is still subject to the discretion of the potter.
Henry and Richard Blackaby
Matthew 4 records the call of Peter and Andrew. As Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw them fishing and said unto them, “Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men. Matthew tells us that immediately they left their boats and followed Him. Going from there, Jesus saw James and John and called them. Again Matthew used the words “immediately they left their boat and followed Him.”
None of these men knew anything about the work of God in capturing souls. All they heard was “follow me and I will make you.” Servants aren’t supposed to know the how or the why. The just make themselves available for use and in these cases, they just followed Christ wherever He went. Nothing has changed. God has not left us to figure out how we do kingdom work. When asked “what shall we do that we might work the works of God”. He replied, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” Simple truth. Our work is first of all believing that Jesus is God’s Son, that His work on the cross is all sufficient and necessary for salvation and then giving that truth to every human that God has created.
Jeremiah likens this to a potter and clay. The clay is available, sometimes it has flaws and sometimes it becomes hardened; but as long as it remains in the potter’s hands, it can be made a useful vessel. Many vessels are useless for they refuse to function as designed. Many wait until they will reach the state of perfection. Others sit themselves aside because they have not been made like some other vessel and are quite sure for that reason, they have no purpose. But every vessel made has been made for a purpose and everyone that God calls from darkness to light has a mission. The beauty of God’s creativity is that no two vessels are alike, but each has been carefully made by the Potter for His purpose.
“Now in a large house there are not only vessels and objects of gold and silver, but also vessels and objects of wood and of earthenware, and some are for honorable (noble, good) use and some for dishonorable (ignoble, common). Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things [which are dishonorable—disobedient, sinful], he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified [set apart for a special purpose and], useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.”
2 Timothy 2:20-21
Whatever God calls you to, He will give you sufficient enablement to carry it out. The incredible gift of the Holy Spirit given to every believer dwells within us and through His power and abilities we do the work of God. It is never and will be never our abilities, skills, and talents for the work that God calls us to exceeds far above and beyond any human accomplishment. One way to know that God has called you for His purpose is when that thing you feel His prompting you to do is way beyond your reach and capacity. Second, God never asks to use anything except what he has already given you. Who you are and what you have and can do is sufficient for His purpose. The only question we need to answer is this: “Am I willing to make myself available for God’s use and purpose with no conditions, no excuses and exceptions, and no strings or negotiations? Am I available immediately? Will I start now rather at some perceived more convenient time?”
I believe we all have a window of opportunity to serve God as never before. As our world reels crumbles, this is the time for Christians and the church to commit fully make themselves available for the work of God. It may not be the work we have done before. We may never again “fish for fish”, but if we follow Him He will show us how to be “fishers of men.”
Dr. John Thompson