SERVING WITH CHRIST — The Cost of Serving
It costs something to serve people, because when we do that we’re putting the wants and needs of others before our own wants and needs. Serving is a personal sacrifice. Jesus’ role of servant was the ultimate example of this: He served us by dying on a cross for us! It cost Him everything.
Following Jesus means following His example: sacrificing for others. The apostle Paul wrote, “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:4)
Serving is costly because we have to be willing to take risks. When you decide to serve others, you’re putting yourself out on a limb. In fact, Jesus often required His first followers – His disciples – to do that.
Jesus sent out His twelve disciples, two by two, to the surrounding villages to preach His message. As if this wasn’t a scary enough challenge, He said to them, “Take nothing for the journey – no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic.” (Luke 9:3) They were to depend on the hospitality of the people they spoke to for their needs to be met. Jesus certainly wasn’t going to allow them to remain in their comfort zone!
After the disciples returned from their speaking tour, they went with Jesus to an out-of-the-way place. The problem was that a huge crowd of people followed them! Late in the afternoon, after Jesus had preached and taught for most of the day, the disciples, who were probably exhausted from their own trips and from dealing with the crowd, said to Him, “Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here.” (Luke 9:12)
Jesus replied, “You give them something to eat.” (Luke 9:13) Put yourself in the disciples’ place. There were about 5,000 men there; if you allow for a significant number of women and children, it’s not improbable that the crowd totaled 9,000 people. (That’s the number of people that can fit into Fifth Third Field here in Toledo to watch the Mud Hens play baseball!)
Of course they replied that there was no way that they could feed them. All they had was what they had observed one boy carrying: his own lunch, consisting of five small loaves of bread and two little dried fish. We’ll finish this story later; suffice it to say now that Jesus calls us to serve others, and doing that is rarely going to be easy!