a guest post (1st of 2) by Trey Lyon – http://thelyonfamily.org
A good friend of mine in ministry talks about how while he was in seminary, he would talk about caring for the poor at every Bible study he did, every sermon he preached, in every class he attended… After over a year of practicing this, it hit him: he was talking about social justice – embodying the Gospel in a lifestyle of service – but he wasn’t actually doing any social justice.
In the New Testament, James warns us about this tension: “faith without works is DEAD” (see James 2:14-26). We simply cannot speak of a faith that we are unwilling to practice.
And I think most of us know that.
And if we are honest, we’ve probably felt like my ministry friend at some point – realizing we have become excellent sales-people for a product we don’t even use. And so then we look for inspiration and motivation to serve:
- So we think we should serve because Jesus served…
- we should serve because others will see our good works and glorify our Father who is in heaven…
- we should serve because there are over 2,000 verses of Scripture that speak to God being with and for the poor, the marginalized, and the neglected…
- we should serve because our Pastor, our Youth Minister, Shane Claiborne, and that bearded guy on TV with all the starving children makes us feel like we should serve…
These are good, noble, and oftentimes true reasons for Christian service, but please hear me out: if that’s all we’ve got to run on, our once boundless optimism can be overwhelmed by the endless crashing waves of need. We cannot do it all, and when we come with the idea that we are going to make a “Kingdom impact” in our own strength – using our own ideas – we set a course for disillusionment and despair.
As I type this article, there is a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. set as my computer’s desktop background. It’s a little known, quasi-heretical quote that simply says, “Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted”. What does Dr. King mean by “creatively maladjusted”? Maladjusted means uncomfortable, disquieted, restless – even a little agitated. It’s like a pebble in your shoe, or sand in your swim trunks. It grates and annoys you until you’re forced to do something about it.
Often when people are asking questions like “What is God’s will for my life?” or “I really want to serve – what should I do?” the churchie answer has become “What is your passion? What makes you feel alive? You should do that.” And there is some level of truth to that advice…
However, one of my favorite authors and speakers says a better question to ask is “What makes you angry? What’s the thing that, when you see it, you think ‘That’s SO wrong! Somebody should DO something about that!’ “
What say you? Do you have a desire to serve, but just don’t know where to begin? Start with your righteous “angers”! What injustices or lack of services do you see that just make you angry!? How might God be leading you to jump into the fray and serve His powerless, abused, or forgotten loved ones?
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