I received a wonderful comment on The Life Project today from our own paulfg; why was it so wonderful? Because it made me think, always the element that makes a post or a comment great, at least for me. The part that served as the catalyst for me was this:
“Maybe it is why I have an “issue” with the heavy sacrifice, burden and “work” of being a “good Christian”. It is too closely linked (in our hearts and minds and culture and very being) to earning and worth and personal effort. Maybe that is why Love appeals so much as the answer.”
In my reply, I offered this (in part): “Love is the question; now what is the answer?”
I’m not very good at saying “I love you”, if you don’t believe me, ask my wife!
In my Neanderthal male brain, just saying the words is kind of cheap, almost a way out of actually doing something about love; anybody can say it, but how many put it into practice?
This morning, I got up at O-dark-thirty; boy was it ever cold: Brrr…
I went downstairs as I normally do to make breakfast for my wife before she went off to her office for work. When she was ready and came downstairs, her coffee was hot and ready, and her breakfast was awaiting her arrival. I don’t have to this, nobody forces me to do it, and some have even asked why I do it; I do it because I love my wife. It isn’t difficult, it isn’t a hardship, it isn’t a sacrifice of any kind; it is a joy. My wife would probably be just as happy if I just said those magic three words, but serving is so much more of a joy.
I’ve had people express surprise that I do this, saying that it must be a chore; difficult or some kind of a burden, but expressing love is never any of those things, is it?
As for serving our Lord as His followers or servants, I hear a lot of people say that this is a duty, an obligation or a requirement of some kind. I hear this described as difficult, burdensome, work, and most of all, “too hard”. Honestly, I find that difficult to comprehend. That is, of course, unless the person who thinks in these terms is serving God for all of the wrong reasons. Do they serve Him because someone told them that they must do it? Are they trying to earn “points” of some kind? Could it be that they are trying to earn God’s favor?
I think it is so very important that we understand a few things about serving God. First and foremost is that there is nothing we can possibly do to “make” God love us, and even if there were something, we don’t need to make Him love us anyway, since God loved us long before we ever knew about Him; He loved us before we were even born, because that is His nature; He loves His creation, and He created us to love. Second, there are no brownie points to be earned, because God doesn’t play favorites. Third, an argument can be made that we have some kind of duty to serve, but we don’t serve simply because it’s our duty, and finally, nobody can make you do what you don’t want to do; just say no, if that’s what you want to do.
Do you really think that Almighty God takes time out of His busy day to keep time cards?
Frankly, I doubt it, and I’m afraid that none of us are so important that His Kingdom will crumble without our “work”. No, His Kingdom will do just fine if you and I sit on our hands.
So then, why should we even bother?
The answer to that is simple, and it is the same reason that I get up long before dawn to make breakfast for my wife: It’s because I love her. Why bother to serve God?
Because we love Him. Service is a natural response to love, and it is one of the greatest joys associated with love. Thus, I am willing to serve God because doing so is the greatest joy I have ever known. It isn’t a burden, work, too hard or any of that, unless I am doing it to get something in return, in which case I must assess the benefit to be gained against the cost of doing the job, and God simply doesn’t operate like that, for He’s already done it all for me.
There’s one more thing we might consider: Serving God always seems to involve serving other people, and why would that be the case? Because God loves them just as much as He loves me. The result of serving God by serving other people is actually a double joy, for it is the joy of doing something for another person, and the joy of serving God and His Kingdom, and the truth is that God is really the one doing the work, I am only His vessel for doing it. There’s nothing more rewarding in this life.
I’ve done quite a few things over the past half century. I’ve also been to some very interesting places and met some very interesting people; I’ve even made a little bit of history, yet the times in life that provide the most happiness, joy, peace and satisfaction are the times I spend serving God by serving others in a way that advances His purpose.
Work, duty, burden, obligation, difficult, sacrifice?
Hardly! At this point in life, the one thing I can think of that could be described by those words would be for me to be forced to stop serving Him. I agree with paulfg: I’ll go with the love (even if I’m not very good at putting it into mere words.)