Serving Is Central to Our Life
We are hard wired for serving. Throughout our lives we encounter a wide variety of people and opportunities to serve. The spectrum of service opportunities represents the full range of need and experience of the human community. We can serve others through the simplicity of sharing a cup of cold water to someone who is thirsty (an act sanctified in Christ’s own teaching). Through the regular donation of time, talent and treasure we can serve the needs of people and the community in which we live. Service also takes the form of choosing a vocation of solidarity where we commit to living with and advocating for the needs of people who live at the margins of our world. While we might evaluate service based on how much the servant “gives up”, keep in mind that the Gospel provides for no such grading system.
Comparison Is the Thief of Joy
As we look more deeply into service we realize that keeping score doesn’t serve us well. Our best leadership and management gurus tell us that evaluation is vital to improvement. If we don’t score our actions we run the risk of falling into a rut. As a consequence we could stunt our ability to grow. On the other hand, if we begin to score the relative effectiveness of service by human standards, evaluation and comparison become less helpful. The effect this comparison is that we begin to denigrate the importance of our acts of service. We downplay our acts because they don’t measure up to some idealized image of service. In fact, our service to others is not judged on such a subjective standard. We live, love and serve (each in our own way) according to the example of the Christ.
Conformed to the Image of Christ
We gain important insight into the heart of serving through the Scripture for Sunday. As Paul reminds us, our service in the name of Christ is considered by a different standard. Paul speaks powerfully from his own experience about the depth and breadth of God’s love. For Paul, God’s love is the power behind our life of faith. Because God’s love, through the agency of the Holy Spirit, empowers disciples, they are able to pray and serve beyond their weakness. Furthermore, God’s relentless love is capable of working through each experience of our life to bring the possibility of resurrection. Not even our worst experiences of tragedy are capable of short circuiting God’s life giving grace. As a consequence of God’s work in our life, we’re given the opportunity to choose new life. With each choice to open our self to grace, God conforms us to the image of Christ.