James Meehan - Called to Serve
- Get involved
So, it was a little over a month ago when we had our National Switch Serving Day, where across all of our Life Church locations, even some of our Switch family that are in different parts of the world, we went into our communities, we saw needs, and we did what we could to meet those needs because we want to be a movement that doesn't just talk about making a difference, but we actually make a difference because we know that we have been called by God to do something significant, to be part of His good plans for the world. And that's exactly what we've been talking about in this series we're in, what difference do I make?
Now, the Life Church I'm a part of here at Switch in Edmond, Oklahoma, we serve at three different mission partners. The group of leaders and students I went with, went to the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma where over the course of two hours, we put in a whole bunch of time and energy to prepare meals for almost 6,000 families in our community to help them make sure they've got a warm meal on the table. And that was something really special to be a part of. And what's cool is I got to hear so many stories from students just like you and leaders that are part of your Switch locations that were also a part of something really, really special because we know that life isn't about us.
That life is so much bigger than us, and it's really, really cool that we get to be a part of that. And we get to step in and make a difference. Throughout this series we've been exploring this one Hebrew word that comes into three different English words in the English translations of our Bible. This word is abad, A-B-A-D. It's a word that means work, worship, and serve. And for the first half of this series, we've looked at each of those different English translations to help us get a more clear understanding of the difference that God has called us to make. In week one of the series, we talked about how our Creator has called us to work with Him, to be a part of His good plans for the world.
Last week we talked about how our Redeemer has called us to worship, to devote everything we are to Him, to express our honor and our love for all the things that He's done and for who He is. Now, this week we're talking about how we've been called to serve. And over the course of these three weeks, with that Hebrew word and this teaching from Jesus, found in Matthew 22:37-40. This has been framing all of the conversation because it's in that passage of Matthew where Jesus tells us that the most important commandments are to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. And that there's a second one just like it, to love your neighbor as yourself.
And then right after that, Jesus tells us that on these two commands, loving God with all that we are and loving others the way that we would want to be loved, the entire Bible, the law and the prophets, hang on those two commands. That basically means that anytime we are reading the Bible, what we're being invited into is to become the kind of person that love God with all that we are and can love others the same way that God has loved us. And so in week one, we talked about the work we've been called to do, which is loving God and loving others. In week two, we talked about what it means to worship God by loving Him with every part of who we are.
Now this week, we're gonna focus on that second commandment Jesus mentioned, loving our neighbors as ourself. That's why the big idea if you are taking notes for this week is that your King has called you to serve. Your King has called you to serve. Now, to help us better understand what that looks like for us in our modern world, as disciples of Jesus, trying to navigate the year 2022, how do we do this wisely? How do we do this well? How do we do it in such a way that actually helps others? We're going to read a passage found in Mark's gospel, where two of Jesus' disciples ask him a really important question. So, picking up in Mark 10:35, we read that James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to Jesus and they said, "Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask".
What a great way to start a conversation. It's the kind of thing where you go up to somebody and you're like, "Hey, if I tell you this thing, you have to promise not to tell anybody else". And that other person is thinking like, okay, cool. But I don't know. Like, there might be something you tell me that I have to tell somebody. So, I don't know if I can make that promise. But Jesus, Jesus simply asks, okay, cool. "What do you want me to do for you"? And so they reply in verse 37, "Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left, in your glory". This is their way of saying, hey Jesus, when you be come king, when you enter into your glory, we want to have positions of power. We wanna have positions of honor and influence. It's like, Hey Jesus, if you're gonna be president, one of us wants to be the vice president and the other one wants to be the secretary of state because we want power, we want influence. We want to be people who make a difference.
And then in verse 38, Jesus says, "You don't know what you're asking". And for them, they probably thought they knew what they were asking. They were asking for positions of influence because just like you and me, they wanted to make a difference. They wanted to live lives of significance. But just like you and me, their assumptions about what that really looks like were a little bit off because we live in a world where for so many of us in our efforts to be people who make a difference, to be people who leave a legacy, what we're chasing after is celebrity, status, and power. And that's not at all what Jesus is calling us to because Jesus is not like any other king. He's not the kind of King that lords his authority over others. He's not this kind of King that just dominates other people into submission.
Instead he is a King who came humbly to serve. He's a King who left heaven, He entered history, He was born in a stable as a baby to poor peasant parents, living under the boot of the Roman Empire. He was somebody who could have had all the power He wanted, but instead he gave it up so that he could live a humble life as a wandering Jewish rabbi, to tell people about the good news of who God is and that His kingdom is coming on earth as it is in heaven. And so, when James and John are asking Jesus for these positions of power, they think that it's going to bring so many of those things that we're searching for. But Jesus understands that positions of influence in His kingdom do not look the same way that positions of influence look like in the rest of the world. And so he tells them, "You don't know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I'm baptized with? We can," they answered.
And so Jesus says, "Okay, you will drink the cup I drink and you will be baptized with the baptized I'm baptized with, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant because these places belong to those for whom they have been prepared". I think Jesus is helping us understand something really important. Is that if we spend all of our time and energy clawing for positions of power, clawing to be celebrities, CEOs, and social media influencers, then we're probably chasing after something that God doesn't actually have prepared for us because all of us have been called by God for a purpose. We've all been invited into his plan to make a difference, but your calling doesn't always look like that other person's calling. And so, if we are constantly striving to have what somebody else has, then we may end up missing what it is that God wants to show us.
And so in verse 41, the 10 other disciples, after they've heard about this, they became indignant. They were frustrated and irritated with James and John. Now it could be because they were annoyed that James and John thought of asking Jesus first, right? That could be what it is. Or maybe they were annoyed in the same way that so many of us get annoyed when we see people who are just chasing after clout. When we see people who are just in it for followers, for fame, and for fortune. Where we realize, yeah, you're kind of just doing this all for yourself. And it just gives us this icky feeling when we see other people do that because we start to realize that in their interactions with us, they're not really thinking about us, they're thinking about themselves. And if we're really honest, then we would admit that we probably do the same thing to other people as well. That it can be really tempted to be more focused on what's good for me than what's good for them.
But that's why what Jesus says next is so important for us to wrap our minds around because He calls us to something different. He calls us to something better. It's in verse 42 where Jesus calls all of his disciples together and he says, "Hey, you know that those who are regarded as rulers, those who are in positions of leadership over the Gentiles, over the rest of the world, they lord their leadership over them and their high officials exercise authority over them, but not so with you". Not so with you. If you call yourself a follower of Jesus, you are called to something different. What is that different? Well, he tells us. He says, "Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant. And whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many".
Your King has called you to serve. In your pursuit of making a difference, we gotta be so intentional that we don't get so distracted by chasing after greatness that we miss our calling to service. Because even the Son of Man, that's Jesus, talking about himself. Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. Jesus, the King of creation, entered the world to lay down his life for you and for me. And if we're his followers, then we've been called to do the same. And so, are you grasping after all of these things so much that you're missing out on what Jesus has calling you to? And sadly, that's the case for a lot of us because we see what other people have and we want it. We want lives of significance. We want to make a difference. And we don't even realize that the way that we've been called to make a difference is totally different than the rest of the world. Because instead of chasing after power, it's all about serving people. And this isn't something that Jesus just talked about.
As a matter of fact, it is something that Jesus lived out and he set an example for us to follow. And it's in Philippians 2 that the apostle Paul kind of lays out what that example is meant to look like. And so, what I wanna do is read to you some of these things that Paul is imparting to us to help us better wrap our minds around what it looks like to actually follow in the footsteps of Jesus, of being people who are called to serve and actually answer that calling. Because what is it about serving? Why does that matter? Well, I mean, Jesus told us that the greatest commandment is to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and to love your neighbor as yourself. But what does that look like? Well, super simply, serving is doing good for others. Serving is doing good for others. And that is an example that Jesus set for us that we get to follow.
And so here is the apostle Paul in Philippians 2:3-11, walking us through what this means for us. In verse three, he tells us, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Don't do anything just because it's good for you. Rather, in humility, value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests, but each of you to the interests of others". Serving other people requires humility because it requires us to get our focus off of us and put it onto other people. Because if we are trying to do good for others, but all we can think about is what's good for us, then we are going to miss the mark of serving others in the same way that God has called us to. In the same way that Jesus has served us. And then in verse five, Paul says, "In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus". That means when you're interacting with other people, think about them the way Jesus thinks about you. But how did Jesus think about you? Well, that's what the rest of this passage tells us.
In verse six, Paul tells us that Jesus, "being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage". Jesus is equal to God. He is one with God. He is God, but he never used that for His own good. He used all of it for the good of others. "Rather, He made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness and being found in appearance as a man, He, Jesus humbled himself by becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross"! This is the thing that makes Jesus so special and the gospel so good is that the King that we have been called to serve, the King that we've been invited to worship, is a King who does not send out his people to die for Him. He is a King who willingly died for His people. That is not the way the world works. And this is why it's such good news because the King that we worship, the King that we work with, the King that we serve alongside, is one who cares about you and me. We're not just names. We're not just numbers. We're people who are loved by God.
And then in verse nine, Paul tells us that, "Therefore, God exalted Him, Jesus, to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth. And every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God, the father". Who is God? God is our king. And he wants to be King over everything. And you and I, when we begin a relationship with Him, we become citizens of His heavenly kingdom. And we have been called by our King to serve, to do good for others. But like, how do we do that? Something that has been helpful for me, it's thinking about how we can serve by giving others our time, talent, and treasure. By giving them our time, our talent, and our treasure. Because all of us, we have some time, we've got some treasure, and we've got some talent that if we're willing to, we can use that for the good of others. We can step into the calling that God's given us to serve others by using what we have to meet the needs of this world.
And so, what do you have time for? Maybe you've got time on the weekend to get involved serving in your church. Maybe you've got time during the week to reach out to one of your friends that you haven't seen in a while, or to call up one of your grandparents and just ask them about their life, ask them about some of the things you're walking through and invite them to give you wisdom. What kind of treasure do you have? Like do you make an allowance? Are you taking some of what you've been given and choosing to be generous with it? Trusting God with the tithe, choosing to give offerings to our mission partners, to the different aspects of the church to support the You Version Bible app. Are there local charities and nonprofit organizations in your community that are making a difference and you want to support them by giving some of what you have to support what they're already doing? What are you talented in? What are the things that you're good at? What breaks your heart? What are you passionate about? And how can you start to direct some of your talents to be used for the good of others?
Now, it's gonna look different for all of us because we're different people in different scenarios of life, but all of us have been called by our King to serve. And so, what is that gonna look like for you? How will you answer the calling of your King to use what you have, to do what you can, right where you are? Because you can make a difference. You can be a part of God's plan to rescue others from sin and restore the world. And sometimes it starts with something really, really small. But in the kingdom of God, the small things are actually the big things. Now throughout this series, one of the things that we've been practicing is prayer. It is the discipline of connecting with God, by having a conversation with Him, just talking to Him, telling Him what it is that we need, thanking Him for the things that He has done.
And if you're somebody who's new to the whole idea of following Jesus or prayer, then you should check out the "Becoming Like Jesus Prayer Bible Plan" because it is a plan designed to help you learn how to pray step-by-step and day-by-day. Because when we pray, we grow in our relationship with God and He makes us more like Jesus so that we can better answer His calling to serve others. One of the things that I think is so important to continually come back to is the truth that humble service is born out of honest prayer. Humble service is born out of honest prayer. What do I mean that by that? I mean like if we actually wanna serve with our focus on helping others and not just making ourselves look good, we have to constantly be reminded of who God is, what He's done, and what it is that He's called us to. Because if we see service as simply a way to climb up the ladder of heavenly success, then we're missing the point because it's not about us. It's all about God and what he has done for the world. It's all about the calling we have been given to be a part of what he is already doing through Jesus.
And the fact that we're invited in to the greatest story ever told to play a part in other people meeting Jesus and other people knowing Jesus, and other people seeing how the kingdom of God can come on earth as it is in heaven. That's what you've been invited into. That's what your Creator, your Redeemer, and your King has called you to. So, will you answer the call? Will you choose to be a person who serves? And another really great way that you can do that is actually just show up next week because next week is our Switch Fights Human Trafficking Night where we are hosting an entire night of Switch devoted to raising awareness and money to support organizations that are fighting against the evil and injustice of human trafficking. Because right now in the world today, there are more people living in slavery than any other time in history.
And this is not something that God is okay with. And we believe that God is calling us as a Switch movement to be a part of eradicating modern day slavery. And that's what next week is all about. So invite somebody with you, show up to it, ready to learn how you can pray, you can give, and you can serve alongside these different organizations to make a difference right here and right now because there are people who are desperate to experience the goodness of God. And the way that most often happens is through God's people stepping up and serving others. Because really at the end of the day, this is what matters most, to become the kind of person who can love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and to love your neighbor as yourself. The entire Bible, all the law and the prophets, depend on those two things. And you, you've been called by God to work with Him. You've been called by God to worship Him. And you have been called by God to serve.
Heavenly Father, we thank you so much that you call us, even though you don't need us. We thank you that you love us, even though so often we turn our backs on you. We thank you for Jesus, who was the best example of humble service in history that you, God, you became a person. You left heaven. You entered the messiness of the world so that we could be forgiven of our sins. God helped us to never forget how much you've done for us. Help us to learn from your example so that we can do that for others. God, give us the courage, give us the wisdom, give us the discipline to be the kind of people who serve others in the same way that you've served us. It's in Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
Now, maybe there's others of you that as you're hearing this message, you realize that this idea of serving others sounds really good, but something's missing because you don't have a relationship with God. You don't really know who Jesus is, but you want to, and you can't really explain it. See, the Bible tells this story, that in the beginning, God created everything, the heavens and the earth, and He created you and me as human beings to live in relationship with Him. That's what we were designed for. This is why throughout history, human beings have been reaching out to discover their Creator. But the good news of the gospel is that our Creator reached out to us in the person of Jesus. He walked on this earth in the form of a human being so that we could know Him and be known by Him. And Jesus lived a perfect life. He never sinned. He was blameless so that when He gave up His life on the cross, He could be the perfect sacrifice for are our sins, this disease that separated us from God, but with His death on the cross, with His resurrection from the grave, the disease of sin can be healed.
All we have to do is to put our trust in Jesus, to dedicate our lives to Him because when we do that, the Bible tells us that we will become a new creation, that we will be made right with God. We will be able to step into His kingdom, adopted into His family. And maybe that's exactly why you're here today, to say yes to a relationship with Jesus, to begin a new life defined by His love for you. If that is you and you want that, you're ready for it, then all you have to do is to simply raise your hand right now saying yes to Jesus. If you're watching online, type it in the chat saying, "Jesus, today, I give you my life. I want to be made new". And as people are making that decision all over the place, we wanna celebrate with you. We wanna pray alongside you as you begin this new relationship. So all together, out loud, everybody repeat after me:
Heavenly Father, forgive me of my sins,. I'm turning from my old life. I'm turning toward you. I need your love. I need your grace. I need your mercy. Today, I give you my life, in Jesus' name. Amen and amen and amen.