Do You Serve God or Expect God to Serve You?
DO YOU think of Christianity in terms of giving or in terms of receiving? It is so easy to be concerned solely with our own well-being and so, in effect, expect God to serve us instead of our being concerned about serving God acceptably. If we engage in the worship of God merely because of the peace of mind it gives, the success, status or friends it brings, or because it offers hope of salvation after death, then, instead of serving God, we are expecting God to serve us, and our motive is wrong.
One way in which we reveal this mental attitude is by our prayers. Of what do they consist? Solely of petitions for ourselves and those dear to us? Then we betray that we expect God to serve us. Typical of this mental attitude is the devout religionist that makes her novena or ninefold petition to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal for the purpose of getting a job, finding a mate or regaining her health. The idea of serving God never enters her mind. Her attitude is that of a popular religious writer of a previous century who once stated: “Strange as it seems, the Christian religion is a selfish matter. It is primarily concerned with saving one’s own soul.”
But not so! Jesus Christ himself founded the Christian religion and certainly he did not come to earth as a man to save his soul. He was not perishing. He had life and the right to life Had he not lived for countless aeons with his Father? He came to earth, not to have God serve him, but to serve God, because it was the right and loving thing to do.
Jesus dedicated his life to do his Father’s will. As he himself said: “I have come down from heaven to do, not my own will, but the will of him that sent me.” In other words, ‘I came to serve God.’—John 6:38.
Jesus served God in many ways. He glorified his Father and made his name manifest to men. He bore witness to the truth. And he served God’s people as well as all mankind. “The Son of man came,” said he, “not to be ministered to, but to minister and to give his soul a ransom in exchange for many.” The way he ministered to the people was by preaching to them “the good news of the kingdom of God” and healing all the ailing that came to him.—John 17:4; 18:37; Matt. 20:28; Luke 4:43; 6:19.
For Jesus, serving God also meant keeping separate from the world: “I am no part of the world,” said he. It also meant keeping free from all sin: “Who of you convicts me of sin?” No one could.—John 17:16; 8:46.
Because Jesus so faithfully and unselfishly served his Father, Jehovah God rewarded him by ‘exalting him to a superior position,’ giving him “the name that is above every other name.”—Phil. 2:9.
Not that God was in need of Jesus’ service or that he needs our service. For an eternity in the past Jehovah God had been perfectly self-contained before ever he created his Son; and if he did not need the service of his Son he certainly does not need our service. As the prophet quotes him: “If I were hungry I would not say it to you, for to me the productive land and its fullness belong.” No matter what we may be able to do in serving God we must recognize Jesus’ words as true: “When you have done all the things assigned to you, say, ‘We are good-for-nothing slaves. What we have done is what we ought to have done.’” But God in his unselfish love gives his creatures the privilege of serving him so as to prove themselves worthy of his blessings.—Ps. 50:12; Luke 17:10.
To serve God as Jesus did does not mean for us likewise to perform miracles, feed the multitudes, cure the sick and raise the dead. Such miracles, having served their purpose to establish the divine origin of Christianity, passed away. Neither does it mean for us to give our lives in sacrifice as a ransom. That is impossible because we are all sinners and, besides, Jesus provided a ransom once and for all time by his sacrifice.—Heb. 9:26.
But we can serve God in imitation of Jesus by bringing honor to Jehovah God, making known his truth, his name, his Word and his kingdom. That commission Jesus gave to all his followers: “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, . . . teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you.” Each Christian therefore has the obligation to preach. That is why the apostle Paul exclaimed: “Woe is me if I did not declare the good news!” Do you think that commission was only for apostles, men like Paul? Then note that Paul also wrote: “Become imitators of me, even as I am of Christ.”—Matt. 28:19, 20; 1 Cor. 9:16; 11:1.
Although very few professed Christians appreciate this truth, it is gradually beginning to dawn on the leaders of Christendom. Thus the 1958 Lambeth (London) Conference of Anglican bishops approximated the truth when it stated: “Evangelism is not to be thought of as the task of a select few. Baptism and confirmation constitute ‘the ordination of the laity’ for the task of evangelism. It is for every Christian to do what Andrew did for his brother—to say, ‘We have found the Messiah,’ and to bring him to Jesus.”—Theology Today, July, 1960.
While preaching the good news of God’s kingdom is the best way in which we can serve God, we may not limit ourselves to it. Serving God also requires that, as we have opportunity, we “work what is good toward all.” And although we cannot live lives wholly free from sin as did Jesus Christ, to serve God acceptably we must continually strive against sin, lest it become a practice with us. At the same time we must keep ourselves “without spot from the world.”—Gal. 6:10; Jas. 1:27.
If we thus serve God instead of expecting him to serve us it will be reflected in our prayers. Then instead of limiting them to petitions for ourselves, our prayers will include praise and thanksgiving to God and petitions for others and in particular for the triumph of righteousness. And then our future in this space age will be, not confusion and destruction, but happiness and everlasting life.—Matt. 6:9, 10.