Sermon for Sunday, 11/04/2018
Part IV Sermon Series: The Disciple’s Path
Texts: I Corinthians 12:12-27; John 13:12-17
Theme: “A Life of Service”
We shall continue our series today, despite the week interruption, but for good reasons too. So, in addition to: Prayer and scriptural meditation, and our presence in worship and small groups, service to God and to others is the next characteristics of the disciple’s path. It is at the heart of the Christian life.
Jesus was not hesitant say this. In Mark 10:45, he says, “For the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and give his life as a random. Taking it a step further in our gospel text (John 13), Jesus not only demonstrates his love through service to his disciples in a very tangible way, but he also instructed them, including us today, to do likewise. John 13 is often read on Holy Thursday about the Last Supper, but this is not our focus today. Our focus is on the Christian life of service.
Accordingly, this is the last time that Jesus ate with his disciples before his death. That is why we call this meal the Last Supper. As they ate, Jesus decides to drive home his vital lesson of the Christian life of service. He left the Table, took the towel, poured water in the basin, knelt and began to wash the disciples’ feet. Peter resisted, because that was not the role of the leader. It was the role of the lowest servant or even the slave of the family to wash the feet of others, especially guests of the family who had walked for hours or days in the desert. But Jesus insisted on washing their feet and he did.
After he was done, Jesus asked them, “Do you know what I have done to you? He said, “You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right; for that is what I am. So, if I your Lord and teacher has washed your feet, you ought to do it to one another. Verse 15, reads, “For I have given you an example that you should follow as I have done to you.”
A Christian is a follower the example of Christ. Jesus put aside his Lordship, his honor and his deity, knelt and washed the dusty feet, and says we should follow his example, for this is what it means to be his disciple. Ministry is messy.
When we understand and accept this truth, we will be willing to do things in the name of Christ, that we won’t necessarily do. For Christ calls us to humbly provide such service in this name.
And many days, I see that right here in this church. I see your fathers, grandfathers, mothers and grandmothers, and children leave home early in the morning, come to put your hands in the flower, making pasties or doing the dishes after a large funeral or serving people at the table or collecting the dirty dishes, or even collecting dirty of the highway. That’s what it means to be a disciple of Christ.
In the Corinthian text, Paul highlights the collectiveness and the individuality of the congregation. The analogy Paul uses is the function of the human body. The body is one, but it has different parts, and each part has an essential role for the wholeness and effective function of the body.
We see this in our daily life. When a single part of our body hurts; let say an ear, it affects the entire body. And we must go to see a doctor for treatment, so that not only that ear, but the whole body feels well again. That’s how important each person is in the life of the church of Christ. Considering the congregation, there are several different services that need to be provided. As much as ushering is important to the life of the church, we all cannot be ushers, or choir, or Sunday school teachers, or lectors, but some of us need to be attendants in the nursery.
This is because not all have the same gifts, or the same interest or passion. Some of us are passionate about going out and serving our seniors at the nursing homes, while others are passionate about serving in missions. What are you passionate about in the church? There can be no bystander.
Every ministry we provide in the church is important. They help to deepen our faith and influence our actions. But beyond that, they are intended to serve a purpose, and that purpose is to reach out in our community and share the love of Christ. One important means by which we share God’s love is service. Service through deeds of kindness is a very powerful way to reach people with God’s love. It is becoming a powerful means of evangelism (spreading and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with others).
Steve Sjogren shares a practical and powerful example of this in his book, Conspiracy of Kindness.
He writes, Joe and Jared pulled into the free car wash that our church was holding as part of our outreach into the community on that Saturday morning.
“How much?” Joe asked as he neared the line of buckets, sponges and hoses. “It’s free,” I told him. “No strings attached.” “Really!” Joe exclaimed. He seemed intrigued with the idea of getting something for nothing. “But why are you doing this?” “We just want to show you God’s love in a practical way.” Joe’s heart. The look on his face was incredible. “Wait a minute!” he practically shouted. “Are you guys Christians?” “Yeah., we are Christians,” I replied. Let’s leave the story here.
But I want you to imagine loading our rakes and bags into pickup trucks and going out to rake the leaves in people’s yard free on a Fall Saturday or showing up at the middle school on a Friday to park the Miner Packs free. Imagine that!
Steve states, “Free service in the Christ offers a picture of the grace of God, a priceless gift that can never be repaid.” And this is the powerful message we covey as a church when we share the free gift of God’s love in this way. God is looking up to you and me to go out and make disciples by sharing his love.
James A. Harnish states in these words, “I am confident that the almighty is fully capable of saving, redeeming and setting right everything that has gone wrong in this world by God’s owns power. I’m sure that God’s kingdom could come, and God’s will could be done on earth sorely by God’s own power. But God chooses to bring that kingdom to reality through the gifts and energies of ordinary folks such as you and me.” Are you willing? And are you ready?
Church, God calls us to reach out into our neighborhoods, and make disciples by proclaiming his love. And we can do that through our free acts of service to a needy world.
As I close, let me borrow Steve’s words as my conclusion. “It seems people don’t necessarily remember what they are told of God’s love, but they never forget what they have experienced of God’s love.
This is the life of service that marks the disciple’s path. May you continue on it.
God bless you