I offer here some further thoughts to the message from Sunday. If you listen to it online you will find that it is an interactive teaching with the congregation that is better experienced in person in order to hear the questions and comments put forth. However, I think you can get a good sense of the main point as you follow along.
The essence of the message is this: You have been created by God to serve. It’s that simple. When you choose to be a follower of Jesus you are responding to Christ’s call to a life of service in the work of God’s kingdom. This call is neither temporary nor occasional – it is full-time. It is a lifestyle of giving yourself to doing the things that Jesus did during his earthly ministry right in your own community and in the world at large.
Jesus did not consider serving optional. It matters to him that you understand that following him and his teachings requires living out the kingdom mission. When you say ‘Yes’ to Christ, you join him in his work. The passage we discussed in Luke 9:57-62 underscores this point. When you say to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go”, you are signing up for service every single day. In his conversation with potential followers, Jesus seems to be somewhat insensitive to any excuses for bowing out of doing your duty. I believe that his straightforward manner is designed to give full disclosure on what the life of his disciple involves. It requires focused attention to Christ and his mission. Anything less than that diminishes the returns of the serving and can eventually disqualify the server from authentic ministry. Jesus puts it this way: “No one who puts his hand on the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
Jesus is comparing his disciple doing kingdom work to a farmer plowing his field with an ox or other beast of burden. In order to keep a straight line from end to end in the furrow the farmer has to both keep his hand on the plow and look straight ahead to the destination point at the end of the row. Taking his eyes off the goal and looking around or behind would quickly become a problem for keeping the furrow straight. If continued, the line would be off centre and would ultimately miss the goal. For the disciple of Christ, Jesus is the destination point and kingdom service is the plowing. Taking your eyes off of Jesus and focusing on other things will greatly compromise and eventually minimize your attempts at serving Christ. What are the things that grab at you for your attention, things that require taking your eyes of faith off of Jesus? Whatever they are, don’t give in to them. Keep Jesus at the centre of everything in your life. In other words, whatever you do, do it with the objective of making Jesus look good.
If you find yourself today making excuses for not serving in the kingdom, you are not alone. A lot of sincere people ‘want to want to’ follow Jesus but are taken back by the expectations of Christ’s call. But having your hand on the plow of kingdom service is the evidence that you are following Jesus in his mission. So ask God to change the desires of your heart to want what he wants for your life. This requires your complete surrender to Jesus as Lord which will entail being available for his kingdom plan.
There is great potential for a life that’s fully devoted to advancing God’s work. Serving others for Christ puts you into the flow of what the Holy Spirit is doing. You will experience ongoing spiritual growth out of your dependence on God for everything you need as well as regular opportunities to invest in the lives of those you serve through mentoring and discipleship. You will discover that the biblical principle that you reap what you sow is true. Not only will you be increasingly blessed by God but you will understand more and more that you are part of something huge and eternal. Because you are part of Christ’s mission to rescue people from irrelevance in order to themselves positively impact others for Jesus, you will know in a deeper way why you exist.
Serving Christ in his kingdom’s work has a tremendous upside for you and those whose lives you will impact. Jesus is calling you to follow him completely and to serve him full-time in every aspect of your life. Are you ready and willing to respond to him? I hope for the sake of the kingdom of God you say ‘Yes’.