Rev. David Schmidt
January 1, 2022
There is a word we use a lot in the church, and it’s a word that we really should put to rest. So, as we come to the time of year when many people make New Year’s resolutions, let’s resolve, as God’s people, to remove from our vocabulary the word “volunteer."
Now there is nothing wrong with being a volunteer. The state of Tennessee takes great pride in being the Volunteer State. There are many places where the term “volunteer” is appropriate. People volunteer to serve in the military, or volunteer to help out the charity of their choice. Volunteering is not a bad thing. It’s a very good thing in the right context. However, it’s not an accurate way to describe what we do at church.
Nowhere in scripture are God’s people called volunteers. There is only one word that describes God’s people when it comes to relating to the world and to each other. That word is “servant.” We are not volunteers. We are servants, and the difference should be somewhat obvious. A volunteer is a temporary status, and you choose the time you want to give, and you choose your level of commitment. No one can tell a volunteer what to do. A volunteer can cease to be a volunteer at any time. But a servant is always a servant. A servant doesn’t decide his or her level of commitment. A servant doesn’t volunteer, a servant serves.
Jesus says in Matthew 20:25-28 “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Jesus tells us who we are. We are servants because in Jesus Christ, God came to be the ultimate servant. He served us by dying on the cross to ransom us from sin, death, and Satan. We are brought into his kingdom, and the defining characteristic of this kingdom is service. God’s kingdom people are servants and as servants we are always ready to serve. We look for opportunities to serve. We work together in his church, serving with the abilities he gives us and we serve side by side with fellow servants to expand the kingdom of God.
In the coming months, the leadership of our congregation will be helping all our members to see opportunities to serve as we move forward into our community with the love of Jesus. It is my prayer that we would see ourselves as servants and look for every opportunity to serve in God’s kingdom.