Ed, my old neighbour in Saskatchewan, could always be counted on to do me a favour when we lived next door to each other. It easy to like a neighbour or friend who will always help you if possible. Some folks believe if they do you a favour once, you will ask them again and keep bothering them. They think it is best not to do any favours for others. Ed is not a person to do you a favour and then make sure you don’t forget the favour he did for you years later. It is his nature to help or willingly serve others if he can.
In the season of Lent, there is an emphasis on the willingness of Jesus to serve others. Serving may be a small action to assist another person, or it may be a difficult or costly action in caring for someone. When Jesus was on Earth, he made it clear he was willing to go all the way in serving others. The Bible says, “For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many.”
Serving others was at the heart of Jesus’s ministry. He was willing to serve in the brokenness of the sin of our world. He was freely ready to give his life in service to others, even at the cost of his own life. He was willing to serve God, his Father in heaven that salvation could be given to sinners on Earth.
Why do Christians prefer to get involved in projects at church when giving is mainly effortless? Putting groceries in a food bank container is good but it is not meant to replace feeding the hungry by inviting the hungry to eat at your table. Jesus’s serving was a personal life and death relationship with sinners needing his help for the forgiveness of their sins. Giving some of our wealth to feed the hungry or help those suffering in natural disasters like forest fires or floods is commendable. Yet, some people must also serve by filling and placing sandbags. Who will help serve food at an evacuation center?
Many of us may start and stop at what is easy service. Who will go beyond what is undemanding service? Who will care for the sick when it could cause infection to the caregiver? Who will visit the imprisoned? Who will listen to the grieving and comfort them with a listening ear and caring hug? In Lent, we consider our involvement in serving others in the example of Jesus. Jesus was willing to pay the full price of service on our behalf.
We are often like the disciples who missed the opportunity to serve because they were more focused on themselves than how they might care for each other at the Last Supper. We often dismiss service that calls us to do something that seems like someone else’s job. There was no slave to wash people’s feet at the Last Supper. Jesus did it. He served the others there, by washing their feet. Showing others acts of loving sacrifice is always our Christian challenge in following the example of Jesus our Lord and Saviour.