I have been doing a lot of thinking about serving as of late. This is mainly because my youth group has gone on two service projects over the last few months: one was a weekend serving opportunity to a nearby Christian camp and conference center and the other was a clean-up day at a local park. Both of which gave us a brief glimpse of the much larger scale service project/missions trip we will be going on this summer!
During the lesson on one of our service projects, I showed a video clip called “Get Service,” (which can be found by following the link at the bottom of this page). This video depicts a young businessman who is very impatient and angry with the world. It shows different scenes where his impatience really comes out. In one cheesy scene a “men in black” kind of secret service guy walks up to him, says nothing, and hands him an eye glasses case. “Get Service” is written on the case. When the man opens them and puts the glasses on, people’s needs are made known to him with convenient little captions that pop up for each person. One lady has a caption that reads “avoids relationships for fear of pain!” Another young man’s caption says, “Discontent with life.” A middle aged woman is seen with a “struggling with sense of purpose” caption while the man at the table next to her has one that reads, “has never known true friendship.” Some of the others are: “recently lost his job,” “struggling with addiction,” “just needs a hug,” “works 2 jobs to feed her kids,” “grieving her best friend,” “fighting with her husband,” “could really use a ride,” “ran away from home 3 days ago.” The last one, which I feel is the most powerful, is a kid on a skateboard who the guy got mad at in the beginning of the scene. The kids caption reads, “Just needs someone to care!” To me, serving is simply seeing a need and filling it!
Serving is a wonderful thing, and I am currently in the process of planning more opportunities for my students to gain more exposure to this type of ministry, but I wonder if we really grasp the importance of it! What are we really gaining from doing local, short term or long term missions trips? Do we just go to have a weekend away with our friends, or are we there for something more?
Yes, youth group missions’ trips or service projects can be an opportunity to get away and spend time with our friends, but I believe that there is a bigger purpose and something to be gained from serving. Take a look at Matthew 25:34-45 with me…
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothes you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’”
In this passage, we see the righteous people (or the Christians) being judged before they enter into Heaven. Jesus tells them that they gave him something to eat when He was hungry, gave him something to drink when he was thirsty, and invited Him in when He was a stranger among them. He goes on to say that they clothed Him when He needed clothes, they looked after Him when He was sick, and came to visit Him while He was in prison. We then see that these people were confused by Jesus’ words and didn’t quite comprehend what He was talking about. They thought that they had never done any of the things that He just credited them for doing. They then asked Jesus when they did these things and what Jesus said next completely blows my mind. I believe Jesus sums up the main purpose of serving with one simple statement when He said, “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”
Jesus was saying that whatever we do to try to help someone else, we are actually doing for Him. Whenever we help a Christian Camp with varnishing a dorm hallway or raking leaves, we are serving Jesus. Whenever we clean up trash at our favorite disc golf course and park, we are actually serving Jesus. Whenever we help that elderly couple with their yard work, we are actually serving Jesus. Whenever we volunteer to serve as a leader in a ministry of the church, we are actually serving Jesus. Whenever we go to another part of the country or another country on a mission’s trip, we are actually serving Jesus. Simply put: We are serving Jesus by serving others!
Although we can’t all be given magic glasses that let us see the needs of those around us, we can still do our part by seeing a need and filling it!