Two Christmases ago, my friend Renee invited me to join her to serve with Brown Santa for a Saturday. Brown Santa is an organization that helps provide a special Christmas for struggling families who live in the Austin suburbs.
I’m now ashamed to admit that I didn’t take her up on the offer.
I do think that we had some conflicts – the holiday season definitely provides plenty of those, doesn’t it!? However, in my heart, I didn’t want to serve.
I made very pathetic excuses that were cloaked in spirituality:
- We’re already helping another family provide Christmas for their children.
- We give money to our church and other organizations that help serve the poor and the lost.
- We’re busy trying to reach our friends and family for Jesus.
Now that I read that last point, it kind of makes me sick. Here’s why:
I was at a community group leader meeting where we were talking about ways our groups could live “on mission” together. One of the group leaders said, “Our group has decided we are not satisfied doing nothing, so we’re going to do something.” They decided that “something” was choosing a people group to serve.
They personally know people who are not believers in Jesus who are on board with serving others. What do you think one of the biggest witnesses for those people will be? It might be their believing friends’ stories. It might be a tidy Biblical presentation of the gospel. But I’d be willing to bet that if the Holy Spirit leads them to Himself, they would claim that they were influenced to Jesus because they saw their friends being Jesus to others.
I had a prime opportunity to help Renee be Jesus. To help others who would have been with us see Jesus.
And I blew it.
Now I’m not going to beat myself up about it. Because if it took me a year to realize this, then God obviously had to do a number on my heart. Which takes time. You know… if you’re stubborn… like me. 🙂
But I’m not going to let an opportunity like that slip by again.
I’m reconsidering service! Here’s how:
- I’m keeping my eyes and heart open for ways I can serve. Preferably, I would love an opportunity that involves my family and community group.
- I’m rejecting the notion that I can just give money to organizations that do the work.
- I’m listening for the needs of people around me: in my neighborhood, at my church, where we play, etc.
- I’m praying God will show me clearly what I should do, and what I need to give up in order to do His will.
- I’m not going to forget Jesus’s word on this:
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 clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:35-40, NIV)