What does it mean to serve Jesus?
By Lauren Graham
“Serving God is what we were made to do as his creatures, but our service has been corrupted by our sin and rebellion which has rendered us unable to please him. An important part of the gospel is that in Jesus Christ we can begin to serve God again with the promise of being able to serve him perfectly and forever in the age to come. This Christian service is our privilege and delight.” (Kirk Wellum, The Gospel Coalition)
The Gospel Coalition has defined serving God as loving him “with all that we are, obeying and enjoying him forever.” I wonder how you would answer if I asked you what serving God looks like in your life. Maybe you spend your Sundays serving at church on different teams, helping with worship or kids’ activities. Maybe you spend your summers at a Christian youth camp, helping to teach young people from the Bible what it means to love and follow Jesus. Maybe you don’t have time to serve, you don’t want to serve, or maybe you haven’t given serving God a second thought.
Whatever your approach to service right now or in the past, it’s important that we take time to reflect on what the bible says.
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:23-24
If you take nothing else away from this article, take this point: service isn’t just what you sign up for on a Sunday. What you give your time, resources, energy to each day: this is how you serve God.
True Christian service looks like giving glory to God, honouring Him and living in a way that is worthy of our calling, in every mundane facet of our lives. Serving God goes beyond the two weeks you give up in summer, or the Sunday mornings where you pour tea and coffee for your church family. While these things are great, our service also flows into how you bite your tongue when a customer is cheeky to you at work. Service looks like offering to cover a shift because you know a colleague is having a rough week, or working hard to meet deadlines, or doing the dishes for your messy housemate (I am the messy housemate).
If all of life is worship, then all of life is service
John Mark Comer, in his book Garden City, explains that,
“What you do matters to God a whole lot. Because it’s your ministry… Your ministry is your service – it’s the part you play, the slot you fill, the place you do your thing to work for a Garden-like world.”
Whether you work in a church, a call centre, McDonalds, a coffee shop, for the council emptying the bins, or as a full-time mum/dad – this is your service to God in making the world more like the place He intended back in Eden. Don’t sell yourself short because you work in a “secular” job – this doesn’t exist. Comer goes on to say, “In a Genesis-shaped worldview – all of life is worship.” If all of life is worship, then all of life is service, whether you are pouring coffee or designing the structure of a building or homeschooling your kids.
“Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you.” 1 Samuel 12:24
The posture of service
The second thing we need to remember in serving Jesus is our posture. We do not serve to save face or to earn right standing with God. We serve to pour out worship and praise and give glory to Him. The things we do to serve those around us and in response to the call to make disciples should be to bring glory to God alone.
We serve because we are redeemed, not to earn redemption, and this in itself demonstrates that our posture of service should be one of worship and adoration to God. The verse above from 1 Samuel captures this idea that our service comes from an understanding of the incredible, awesome things God has done for us – this is a God who deserves our service, for he has created us, loved us, redeemed us.
“Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.” (NIV) Ephesians 6:7-9
Cheerful and willing
A third and final point on serving: we are called to serve with a cheerful and willing heart. One thing I have been learning over the past year, is that what God is after more than anything is your heart. He wants to capture your heart and for all that you do to flow from a heart that loves Him, a heart that desires to serve and worship Him because you have experienced the indescribable love and grace that comes from Jesus Christ.
If we were to serve only on the surface, our lives would be empty and draining. God wants our service in the everyday to be life-giving, for Jesus has said he came “that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).
Our service should be life-giving because the one that we serve is the Life-giver.
So with that all said, go and serve! Go and live your everyday life, remembering that in the mundane and everyday things you are offering service to the one who saved and redeemed you. As you walk to your office job, or make a sandwich in Subway, or teach a class of kids, or create content for your social media platform, remember the One who redeemed and saved you and thank Him for the way that you have been called to serve Him in the everyday.
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