So what does service in the kingdom of God really look like? If you’re thinking grand gestures you’re mostly on the wrong track.
This past week in my 7th and 8th Grade religion class, I was talking to the kiddos about martyrdom. I asked them what it would take for any of them to do something as great as burn at the stake out of love and devotion for Jesus. You can probably imagine their response… let’s just say there were no volunteers.
While the bravery and faith of the martyrs of old can inspire us, for the most part, our service to Jesus is much less glorious. We’d like to think that we’re ready to go out in a blaze of glory; that if someone put a gun to our head, we’d take the bullet gladly for the sake of our Lord. It’s as if giving our all to the Lord was like taking a $1,000 and laying it on the table before Jesus and saying, “Here’s my life, Lord. I’m giving it all to you, right here, right now.”
But the reality for most of us is that Jesus sends us to the bank and has us cash in the $1,000 for quarters. Then He sends us through life putting out 25₵ here and 50₵ there. Serve on a church board here. Go to a committee meeting there. Give a cup of water to a shaky old man in a nursing home. Give a special offering in the collection plate. Love your spouse and sacrifice for your family. Teach the faith to your children each night even if it means saying no to a few worldly commitments.
You see, usually following Christ isn’t glorious. It’s done in all those little acts, 25₵ at a time. It would be easy to go out in a flash of glory; it’s harder to live the Christian life little by little over the long haul.
Most of us aren’t meant to be martyrs. We are disciples. And Jesus surrounds us with people so that we can spend a lifetime sacrificing ourselves a little at a time as we seek to serve others because He first served us. This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. (1 John 3:16-18)
Yes, when it comes to being a better Christian, we have a habit of taking ourselves way too seriously. Indeed, I know that before I can ever hope to do something as brave as give up my life for the sake of my Lord, I probably ought to work on learning how to let go of a few creature comforts in life. It’s easy to complain when we go without. But how many of us would be willing to give up eating at a restaurant for six months and give the money to the church or someone in need? It’s a small thing but it’s probably as hard as taking a bullet for most of us.
That’s something to think about!
Lord Jesus, You chose to self-sacrifice Yourself, setting aside all Your personal glories, so that I might be Yours. Thank You for Your act of love! Lord teach me to model You in smaller things, to sacrifice in order to help others, guiding my soul to endure abstinence and loss. Help me not be so enamored with material things but help me seek the greater things of Your kingdom. Lamb of God, I thank you endlessly! Amen.