Note: I forgot to publish this article on my blog when the Newsletter was sent out last month, so I am posting it a month late.
I ended this past Sunday’s sermon with a thought from John F. Kennedy. From his inaugural speech, Kennedy stated, “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”. It’s an iconic statement that has lived on, long after his death. And there is a lot of wisdom in that statement. But if you were with us at Central CC when I brought this up, you will remember that I also shared an edited version of this statement. I said, “My fellow Christians, ask not what your church can do for you, ask what you can do for the Kingdom”. For this newsletter article, I wanted to take some time to expand upon that thought, because I feel that this is where we as a church need to focus. It’s not that we shouldn’t get something out of our church attendance. We get fellowship, encouragement, and many other things. The problem comes when we get so focused on that, that we forget that we are supposed to do something as well. We all have a job to do, and that job is not sitting back and seeing what we can get from the church.
Hebrews 10:25 tells us, “24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” So there is direct evidence that church attendance and meeting together with fellow Christians is something that we should hold as important. We are to spur one another on, and encourage one another. Those are things that we should all get out of meeting together, by being a part of the church. But it can’t, and shouldn’t be all about us.
When we call ourselves Christians, that means two really big things. First, we identify ourselves as followers of Jesus Christ. We wear His name as an identity of who we are and what we are all about. But throughout history, Christians have been guilty of following Jesus in name only. I fear that that’s what a majority of Christians in America are doing now. I’m guilty of this for the majority of my life. It’s important that I admit that upfront, because just as I do with many of my sermons, I’m writing this directed at me just as much as anyone else reading these words. Let me give you an example of what happens when we as Christians only follow Him in name only. We see things like this being said about us. Mahatma Ghandi is credited with saying, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Whether he actually said it or not, I hope you see the significance of what the message is. If we claim to follow Christ, then we should be like Him.
That leads to the second big thing that is meant when we call ourselves Christians. We should be about serving others, because that is exactly what Christ came to do. He was a servant. He did not come to be served by others, He came to serve. It was at His very core. Matthew 20:24-28 reads, “24 When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. 25 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” If we want to be like Jesus, which is what we are saying when we call ourselves Christians, then we have to become servants at heart.
There are many ways of doing this, which is the good news. I won’t quote it all here, because of space, but look up I Corinthians 12:12-31. Click the scripture reference if you get this electronically. For those of you that get a hardcopy, look that passage up. It’s Paul talking about how we all have jobs to do in the Church. Not everyone will have the same job, but the body functions so much better when everyone is doing their part. We are called to serve, and that means we all have a job to do. I’m not trying to say that we shouldn’t get anything out of church. We should. But that can’t be our main focus. We can’t be selfish. You can’t be a servant at heart and be selfish. And if you claim to be a Christian, you have to be a servant at your very core. If you aren’t yet, that’s fine, as long as you’re working that way. It may take a lifetime to get there, but it’s the effort of trying to become more like Christ daily that is the goal of being a Christ follower.