Called and Chosen
We have been chosen by God, called and invited to follow Him. Eph 1:4,5,11 tells us that we have been predestined to be part of God’s family. God has set things in place for each one of us beforehand. We have been called to carry out the work that he has prepared for us to do (Eph 2:10).
When we encounter God through Christ this should lead us into plugging into His purposes for our lives. E.g. God gives Adam a responsibility to tend the garden. God tells Noah to build an ark. God calls Abraham to be a father of many nations. God appoints Moses to be a deliverer.
1 King13:1 God through a prophet declares that a child by the name of Josiah will be born AND also goes on to describe the work cut out for him. To destroy the altars dedicated to idols. 300 years before he existed - his name and his work was already set in place for him to accomplish. Acts 9 We see Saul/Paul encounter Jesus, who sets out his work for him: to be a witness to the Gentiles and also suffer many things along the way. When we encounter Jesus we not only become alive by His Spirit, we also have a purpose to fulfil. This purpose extends itself to reaching out to those who are outside of Christ, as well as serving within the church.
Paul was deeply stirred by an expanding revelation about the church. He saw the church as Christ’s body, every member growing in maturity. We are all part of a whole. Though our faith is personal - our walk is a walk of togetherness. As a community we strengthen one another, we build one another. Ep4:16…From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. As each person contributes it releases the life of God within them, through a variety of ways, whether it be through meeting practical needs, or hospitality or speaking words of encouragement, praying, counselling, teaching, supporting each other through times of crisis, being a helper – that ligament is supplying what’s necessary to the life and growth of the whole.
The life of God within us has an operational dynamic to it. We live out our faith by serving. We are part of a bigger picture, we are building something in God. We are not meant to stagnate, draw back or get distracted on this trip of discipleship. Serving is meant to be a way of life for each of us. It’s not an option. It’s not an extracurricular activity. We are here for the long haul. As long as we have breath in this body, we have a race to run (Heb 12). We need to run it with some discipline, with a mindset that will stay focused on what’s important.
Jesus in this passage is both our model and our motivation.
Jn13:1-5…It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love. The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him……
Jn13:12-17…When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and’ Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”
A picture speaks a thousand words. This scene would have been etched on their minds forever. He lays aside his robe, takes a towel and washes their feet. Teaching them a very strong didactic principle that true disciples are willing to serve. Traits of a Servant
A fully surrendered heart and will
He teaches them that if they were to live this kingdom life for the long haul then they should learn the art of total surrender to God. When we subscribe to being a disciple of Jesus we need to take the whole package. We don’t look at the Bible and pick the parts we like, about being a follower and ignore the parts we don’t want. We cannot reach in and say I will take that, but not this. I like the blessings, but not the obedience. I want to know Him in power of His resurrection; I don’t want to know Him in the fellowship of his sufferings. I want to have victory but I don’t want to go to war.
It’s not going to happen. There will be conflict within us when we become His followers.
Be willing to serve….
- Even when at times it may be inconvenient
- Even when it stretches us
- Or makes us uncomfortable
- Or draws us out of our comfort zone
- Even when people don’t acknowledge it, much less thank you for it.
A life fully surrendered to Him will always remain flexible and pliable. At times the best way to discover your talents, gifts and abilities is to look around and see what needs to be done and do it. That obedience leads you towards becoming more perceptive. That obedience is necessary for God to shape our lives. Gifts that are dormant within us, begin to get stirred up. God can do much more with a person whose heart is totally surrendered to Him. We will remain flexible and pliable as we serve wherever we find a need.
Takes the Initiative
Jesus took the initiative to move around the room washing their feet. When we see or perceive a need we should take the initiative to step in to help. Jesus was practical. He was not locked up in some theological tower directing everyone else. His love was visibly evident and tangible for all to see. Jesus took initiative. He went about doing good. Initiative causes us to grow in servant hood and character. Jesus said, “Even when you give a cup of cold water in His Name, you will have a reward.” Initiative sees the need; exercises spontaneity and move towards it. We all have a part to play in each other’s lives. 1 Cor 12:27 all of you together are Christ’s body and each one of you is a separate and necessary part of it.
There are no insignificant tasks or ministries – we are all needed. Some of you may provide sensitivity (to someone going through a hard time), while another may provide direction. Some are good managers, others are creative. Some can provide stability, others openness and flexibility. Some dream, others lead. Some provide presence, others possess a practical wisdom.
When we take initiative and step up to do something, you will sense God giving you the grace to do it, to accomplish it and see growth in your own life. Not only that, you can also unlock other people around you towards their purposes. You stir up something that could be dormant within their lives and get them moving. God puts his weight behind that initial obedience and it goes further than you would imagine.
When we take the initiative to do something we can change the atmosphere around this place. As we flow together with our various gifts, abilities and functions, we harmonize with others; we create an atmosphere of togetherness in this place. Heb 10:24 we stir up love and good works.
Leaves a lasting impact
Jesus left a lasting impact on each one of these men in that room that day. Jesus’s actions were deeply etched on the minds and hearts of these men throughout their time on earth and had such a life changing effect upon them. The men who started out with Jesus, as ones who were jockeying for prominence, looking for recognition, were totally transformed in their attitudes, their minds, and served for the long haul with an accumulated grace, tenderness and love for God and the church.
Peter said… (1 Pet 5:5)… “All of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’”
James said... (Jm 3:13)…Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in humility that comes from wisdom.
John said… (1Jn 3: 18) Dear children let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.Conclusion
The very intention of Jesus in this room; to impart that servant spirit to them, was not lost on them. They captured it, reproduced it and made it known through their letters. Not only is Jesus our example and motivation but these early disciples should inspire us to give our all to God.
Serving is meant to be a lifestyle. We are here for the long haul. Whilst knowing our unique giftings is important, the underpinning trait is having a servant heart. As we fully surrender our heart and our will to Him, we will remain flexible and pliable. As we take the initiative to do things, we will accumulate character and we will have a lasting impact upon others. Gal 6:9-10...and let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. Eph 4:1...Live the life worthy of the calling you have received. In other words, seeing what God has invested in us. Therefore don’t be casual about your life.
1. What key thought inspires you to serve?
2. Where do you see yourself as most effective in helping others to grow?
3. Is there anything that has caused you to lose your desire to serve?
4. Is there anything that prevents you from taking the initiative to serve?
5. Discuss some aspects of how you can leave a lasting impact on others as you serve?