Serve One Another

Serve One Another

How many of you have ever received this? A jury summons. I did. Two weeks ago, I cancelled my appointments, packed a lunch, charged my Kindle, schlepped to the courthouse, went through security, joined the cattle call, got this badge… and waited. And waited. And lined up. And walked to another room. And waited. And answered questions. And waited. And was dismissed. And called back the next day…and repeated the whole thing over again…all week.

I made it as far as jury selection but didn’t make the team. Maybe it’s because I was carrying the largest Bible I own and wearing a T-shirt that says, “Vengeance is mine!!!” Anyhow, I didn’t get chosen. But what’s big for me is this: I showed up. In the past, I’ve done everything I could to dodge jury duty. Anyone else want to confess? Worked every angle, reached out to every contact, offered every excuse…and it worked.

But this time…felt different. Maybe because I realize I can’t keep whining about our legal system and not do my part. This is my duty. I have a responsibility to my community. Yes, it’s a hassle. Yes, it’s frustrating. Even a little disappointing because I wasn’t chosen. But this time, FINALLY…I stepped up to the plate.

Of course…maybe my response had something to do with this morning’s “one-another.” This summer, we’re looking at some of the 59 “one-anothers” in the New Testament; instructions on how Christians ought to treat each other. Forgive one another, encourage one another, accept one another, honor one another, pray for one another, …and this morning…serve one another.

Our text comes from the last part of Galatians 5:13: For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

The uniqueness of the gospel of Jesus Christ is this: we have been delivered from “shoulds and oughts.” Unlike every other world religion, our salvation does NOT depend upon what we should do…or ought to do; doesn’t depend upon our good deeds…but rather, upon God’s amazing grace. We have been set FREE by Jesus! That IS the gospel. Freedom! BUT, Paul says, don’t take that freedom for granted. Don’t presume upon it. Don’t be selfish with it. In freedom, turn your attention to others. Instead of loving just yourself… love others, too. And one tangible way to love others, Paul says, is to serve others. “…through love serve one another.”

The question before us this morning then…before each of you…is: are you a servant? Are you a good servant of others? In your church? In your home? At your work or school? Are you a servant? Do you quickly…naturally…instinctively…show your love for others by being the first to step up? First to serve? First one to take the lowest job? Eager to sign up when a need is presented? Honestly, now…ask yourself that piercing question. AM …I…A… SERVANT? Perhaps even better, ask this: Would those around me describe me as a servant? Do I serve others well?

“Servant” is not a popular word in our culture. Not a great come-on. “Join Chapel Hill and become a servant!!!” That’s never been one of our taglines. Maybe our history of slavery…that dark stain on our national soul… causes Americans to recoil at the idea of involuntary servitude. And rightly so.

But that is not this. When Paul says, “Serve one-another,” he’s talking about a gift freely given. A choice you make to honor a fellow believer…by offering your time, your attention, your effort. Servanthood is supremely Christian…and it is about as counter-cultural as you can get. We don’t live in a society that honors the servant. We don’t aspire to be a servant. We want to be served. We want to reach a point of affluence and influence where others serve us. The more people we have serving us, the more proof we have that we’ve made it!

And by the way, in my opinion, one of the best gauges of the authenticity of someone’s Christianity…is how they treat their servers. The waitress, the cashier, the salesclerk, the gardener, the garbage man. Do you smile at them? Look at their nametag and call them by name? Thank them for helping you? Or do you snarl and frown and complain and exhale in frustration? If you look down on your servers, if you treat them rudely… or worse, ignore them altogether…if they are invisible to you…I think that haughtiness calls into question the genuineness of your Christian faith. How dare I say something so bold? Easy. Because Jesus did.

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