SERVE: It’s the Way of Jesus! (Week 2)

“Designed with Service in Mind!”

(Ephesians 2:10)

What is your response to the starving child in Africa commercial? What comes to your mind when you see a person with a card board sign outside of Walmart? What happened inside of your head and heart a month ago when I asked for people to open their homes to a young couple and their 2 children? How do you respond for a request to commit your Saturday morning to help someone move or to bring a dinner to someone in need or go help clean someone’s house? What feelings come up when you are asked to hold babies in the nursery or work with teens one night?

 

Let’s just sit in that for a minute. What happens in your heart when you are asked to do something for someone else that is inconvenient, costly, or uncomfortable?

Back in April, many of us were convicted when our guest speaker Natalie Werking called the current working generation a bunch of “slacktivists” combining the words: Slacker with Activist. Her point was that this generation wants to change the world and make a difference (activist), but they aren’t getting around to it (slackers). I don’t think they are alone! I think we all struggle with old concept of “see a need, meet a need” because we are seeing more needs than ever thanks to communication and media platforms. Combine that with the other saying, “no good deed goes unpunished” and well, there we are!

 

We are overwhelmed and the constant bombardment of natural disasters, crises, human drama coming to our devices and family rooms is causing us a lot of fatigue and ambivalence.

 

Maybe slacktivists is too strong of language, a bit pejorative in nature that doesn’t take into account all that we are faced with and bombarded with in everyday life. So I came up with a more palatable term: “distractivists” which combines: Distracted with Activist.

 

What are both of these terms trying to get at? That we see the need, that we even feel passion or compassion toward this need, but we are either too lazy to do anything (slackers!) or our lives are so loud and busy and frenetic that we are distracted and unable to do anything about it.

 

But maybe there is a third reality at play here that neither terms gets to so I am bringing a third and seemingly popular term to the table: “survivalist”! What’s fun about this option is that it causes you to think of snares and traps, hunting and fishing, nuts and berries. The reality with a survivalist is that life has become all about them. There is not activist left in this one, the only passion left is self.

 

This message is targeted toward the overwhelming reality of being a “slacktivist” or a “distractivist”, but it also is for the “survivalist” in our ranks. If you have become jaded or burned out on people and society that you have already escaped into a “it’s all about me, baby” mindset that I really want you to simply listen and ask God to show up and do something in your heart. If you feel nothing for people in need and never are willing to give of yourself to help someone in need because your consumed with your own survival first, then please ask God to touch you this morning.

 

It has been said that the best way to know where you should serve is by looking at where your unique design (your personality and experiences, your spiritual gifts and personal abilities) intersects with the needs of the world that break your heart (your passions and compassions).

 

That makes sense because God said in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”

 

You have heard it said that in architecture form follows function. In other words, you tell the architect what you want and the architect designs it for your intended use. That is no different with God. God designed your form (your SHAPE!) with your function in mind! In other words, God designed you with service in mind for a purpose that you cannot always see! Your service in your place of unique design has a ripple effect beyond what you can possibly know.

 

If God designed us from our mother’s womb with a function (“good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them”) in mind, then by paying attention to our form (the way God made us as “His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for [said] good works”) we would find the place of service where we can serve in the way of Jesus and experience the fullness of joy and life that Jesus promised (John 10:10; 15:11).

 

Form follows function so to know your function you first must pay attention to your form! I was taught how to know my form by looking at my S.H.A.P.E.

S – Spiritual Gifts

H – Heart or Passions

A – Abilities

P – Personality

E – Experiences

 

In other words, God doesn’t waste any part of you, including your life experiences—the good, the bad, and the ugly! God doesn’t make junk and God won’t waste a single part of your life. God designed you and has worked in your life with service in mind—“good works” only you are specially equipped to do!

 

Are you willing to allow God to use you in His service for His glory? Is your heart open to being God’s workmanship—a tool in the hands of the master carpenter?

 

When we make this life about us and forget that it is about His glory and His family, then we distort our SHAPE and lose our passion and compassion. If you are struggling with passion or compassion, then possibly it’s because your focus on survival is keeping you from thriving. We can’t thrive in this life when this life is all that we think we have! We are designed to live eternally, today! That means we are to bring Heaven to Earth, just as Jesus taught us to pray—your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Each of us, in the Name of Jesus, have been designed for this very purpose: our function flows out of our form because God formed us with good works in mind. Your SHAPE is for His glory! How did God form you?

 

I know God didn’t form each of us to just survive and live another day until we can get to Heaven where we will be happy without any more troubles or pains from this world. That sounds awfully and wonderfully individualistic and consumeristic. In other words, very American! There has to be more and there is—you are designed with service in mind!

 

Here are some probing questions: For what or for whom does your heart break? When do you feel passionate and where do you experience compassion? Is it for elderly people in nursing homes? Is it for children and their educations? Is it for young adults trying to find a job or figure out their next steps? Is it for people facing retirement and what to do with the rest of their lives? Is it for people caring for elderly parents? Is it for people in prison or jail wanting another chance in life? Is it for immigrants? Is it for unemployed people just wanting a chance to take care of their families? Is it for single moms? Is it for veterans? Is it for people whose marriages need help? Is it for singles, single-agains, or widows? Is it for kids in the foster care system? The list goes on and on and on and on…

 

Let’s finish with some application: As your pastor, I’m not asking you to personally do everything that needs to be done or to keep doing what you’ve always done or to even do what I or anyone asks you to do. I want you to serve for the right reasons—out of your love relationship with God and out of His divine design for your life (your SHAPE)!

 

I am encouraging you to do only that which God has designed you to do and to do it with your whole heart: 1 place of service that reflects the full truth of Ephesians 2:10. That is the 1 in the 7:1 initiative. That is why you are being asked to wear a blue wrist band. Find your 1 and serve the way Jesus served!

 

There is a lot of needs that are crying out for the church to respond. The Lord knows your pastors, elders, and staff can’t do it all or program something to do it all or throw money at it all. Nor should we try! That is not what Christ calls us to do according to Ephesians 4:11-16. We each can only do what God has allotted for us to do with whole hearts! It will take an army of people to meet all the needs and the church only grows to meet those needs when each individual member of the body is doing their part (Ephesians 4:16).

 

I know it is overwhelming and it’s easy to just insulate yourself from all of the needs—to simply survive. It’s also so easy to get so overwhelmed that you just become numb and don’t know where to start. That is real. And I know there are a lot of distractions, but this is why God created you, saved you, and has kept you on this earth for so long, so that you would learn day by day to walk in the Spirit to do the good works He prepared in advance for you to walk in. This is the way of Jesus that brings glory to God!

 

One place of service! Are you willing? Would you ask God about it right now?

 

That’s all I am asking… a baby step: 1 place to serve that brings out your divine design and awakens your heart, quickens your mind, and invigorates your soul to your unique SHAPE, your divine design. This is what you were created for, saved for, and this is what will bring you the greatest joy in this life.
 
Serve Week 2: Listen to it here 
 
 
 
 
 

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