“The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.” (Mark 10:45a)
A lot of things have changed recently. We have seen pandemic, rioting, and peaceful protest. Some of us are not able to gather together in church to be served by God, so God serves them online. We have seen changes. However God’s Service does not change. Whether we gather together online or in person God serves us through His word and Sacraments. Every week that we gather together is a great banquet offered up by God. Never forget that.
Some do forget. I wonder if that is the reason that church attendance is in a decline throughout our nation. Many churches have forgotten this fundamental truth. We do not go to church to serve God. He doesn’t need our service. We go to church to be served by God.
Listen to His word, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45) God left His throne in heaven and took on our sinful flesh so that God could serve us. Truly God loves us, or he would not have gone to such lengths to save sinners. That is what we are. Sinners. Sinners loved by God. As Paul wrote to the Romans, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” What incredible service! When viewed through God’s service to us, church is not a burden.
Compare this to how some churches only call you to serve. After a difficult work week the alarm goes off on Sunday morning and off you go to serve. You get up, dress, and go to church to give your best to God. At the beginning of the service, a worship leader comes out and asks you to stand and make a joyful noise to the Lord. After a couple of songs, even though your coffee has not kicked in, the worship leader is crying out, “Now this time, really sing it! Everyone get your hands up!” Then, just when you think you can take a break, a pastor comes out, and you are given a list of ways in which you can work harder to be a better Christian and better serve God. After church is complete; you finish your errands, go home, and go to bed, to start all over again.It sounds exhausting, because it is exhausting.
Now compare a service where God serves us. We go to church burdened with a week’s worth of sin. God meets us. We confess to God, and lo and behold, we hear His promise of forgiveness. We eagerly wait for more. We hear God’s word and are strengthened by the Holy Spirit working in it. We rejoice that God has saved us in a message that emphasizes God’s work for us. We begin to recover from our stressful work week. We are feeling better. Next we are invited to a feast that God has put on for us. He invites us to take and eat His very body and blood in, with, and under the bread and wine. We receive forgiveness, life, and strength, through this holy food. God serves us and we respond to His gifts. No wonder we break into song. “Praise God from whom all blessings flow!” We receive God’s blessing as His saints on earth, and strengthened by God’s service to us we respond. Then back home ready to face another week.
Which would I rather take part in? I want to be served by God. I need His strength and His blessings. God’s service is returned with my joy and song. Then I can face another week. Strengthened by God and I can be ready to serve Him in my life and vocation. But first I need His service.