Serve One Another

(While Keeping Two Metres Apart and Not Speaking Moistly)

Service is defined as “The action of helping or doing work for someone.”1 In church lingo, we use it to mean a celebration of public worship, as in “Sunday Service begins at 9:30 am”. But in these times of social distancing, how much helping is really going on at our Sunday “Service”?

Sure, Pastors Paul, Steve, and Rob are working hard to serve the rest of us. But perhaps you were a parking lot attendant, a greeter, or a Sunday School assistant in the pre-Covid days. Sunday morning was your time to serve the body of Christ. In today’s world as you direct your kids to their seats in the living room and press play on the video recording, you think, “This maybe isn’t what the Bible means when it talks about serving one another.”

When the church gathered, it was easy to be in a mind-set that said by serving Sunday morning we were fulfilling God’s call in 1 Peter 4:10: “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace”. Now, with the Sunday Service changed by a pandemic, I’d like to encourage a change to our thinking too. Serving one another should be a part of our everyday life.

Philippians 2:4-8 gives us a picture of what serving one another in everyday life looks like:
“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

It’s the same idea as we see in John 13, when Jesus washes the disciples’ feet. He tells them he has given them an example to follow - the example of humility, doing an unpleasant task, and not considering it below himself. Later that same evening, he says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35

This pandemic may have taken away our opportunities to show each other love during Sunday Service time, but we can use the gifts God gives us to help one another throughout the week, and through acts of love, show the world that we are Christ’s disciples.

Let’s start at home. My kids have become quite creative ever since this lockdown started and we challenged them to find at least a couple of ways each day that they could serve the family. They started with the obvious chores like vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms, and doing dishes. But as time went on, we noticed homemade treats served as we worked in our separate rooms, our son playing guitar for Sunday worship, and our daughter playing video games with her brother (not something she normally enjoys). I think my favourite was when my son announced to everyone, “I’m serving my family by taking my sister for a bike ride to give you some peace and quiet.” (Confession… the Lord is still working on us and we’re not the perfect family yet!)

Serving one another can also extend beyond the home and into the community. Who do you see that you can do some work for? Maybe you can help someone with their yard work. Perhaps you could pick up a gift for a child who isn’t having a birthday party because of the lockdown. It could be calling someone to pray together. God has made us all different, and because of our various gifts and perspectives, we will see needs differently and be able to steward God’s grace to meet the needs we each see. When God shows us a need, there’s a joy that comes with using what He gives us to meet the need. We have been blessed by God to be a blessing to others. So whether using your gift of leadership for on-line small groups or your gift of teaching for on-line VBS, your gift of generosity in giving to the food bank, or your gift of helps to mow a neighbour’s lawn, there are ways God has gifted you uniquely to serve during these times.

Finally, let me encourage you not to lose touch with those you used to serve in your ministry during Sunday Service. Think about how to use your gifts to continue helping those people in this new context of separation in our homes. And remember that as we serve one another in love, Christ is made known. A Ligonier article says it well, “Serving Christ means using our gospel freedom to serve that which Christ loved enough to purchase with His blood. That is why the church is beautiful and why serving her is a glorious privilege.”2