Friday, July 13, 2012

First Class Service

If you’ve ever flown First Class on an airliner, you know the difference.  The big, leather seats are roomier and more comfortable, the food is better, the people you sit next to are easier to travel with, and if that weren’t enough, the Flight Attendants are much nicer, and provide a much higher level of service.  It’s just better on so many levels!

Jesus said:

“You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them.  But it isn’t this way among you!  But whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”  (Mark 10:42-45)

Jesus was teaching them (and us) that in our community of disciples, there is no “boss” other than Jesus himself, and even he is a servant!  We all serve God and one another, and we’re a community of equals.  Shepherds and teachers are not ‘bosses’ or ‘managers,’ but they are just other disciples with a different job description.

Now consider the implications:
How different is a meeting of people who come only to serve each other?  What arguments would their ever be between people who strive to be humble, and who believe it’s more blessed to give than to receive?  We should be falling all over each other to give more, love more, do more … and we’d never want to “win” an argument, or have our own way, for we would only achieve our goal when the other guy gets his way!

We wouldn't come to evaluate the preacher or music, but to help it be better.  We wouldn’t come to receive anything, but we’d come to give, because we believe (have faith) that God blesses us more when we give.

Paul mentioned another consideration in his letter to the Corinth church of Christ:
According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it.
But each man must be careful how he builds on it!
…if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work.  If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he’ll receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he’ll suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. Don’t you know that you all (together) form God’s temple, and that the Spirit of God dwells among y’all?  (1 Corinthians 3:10-16)

Paul starts with the assumption that we all are nothing more than servants, and that even our ability to serve comes from God (according to the grace given).  The issue Paul is addressing is a simple one: quality.  Read the section again, and you’ll see that Paul’s whole point is “quality of service.”  If our service is “First Class,” then it will survive the testing “fire,” which is God’s quality control.

 So … when you seek to take care of others … how’s your quality of service?
Wait – before you answer: read again about the measure of quality!

We can serve a meal to a hungry person.  To make it better, we can serve an extremely fancy meal, an expensive meal, a nutritious meal, or some combination of the above.  Which one is First Class service?  The one that survives the fire … right?

 So what survives the fire?
Eternal things.  Things that cannot be burned, stolen, destroyed, eaten by moths or rusted.  In Hebrews the writer describes our kingdom as one that “cannot be shaken.” Check it out:
See to it that you don’t refuse Him who’s speaking! For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven.
And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heaven.” This expression, “Yet once more,” denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.
Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.  (Hebrews 12:25-29)

If you’ve studied the Torah and pictured the terrifying scene at Mount Sinai, you know how powerful this passage is.  The writer is saying, “If you think THAT was a big deal, wait ‘till you see what’s coming up the next time!”

So what is this we must do to not “refuse Him who warns us from heaven”?  Read on in Hebrews to the very next lines:

  • Let love of the brothers continue

  • Don’t neglect to show hospitality to strangers (for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it)

  • Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them…

  • Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled…

  • Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have (for He Himself has said, “I’ll never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” so that we confidently say, “The Lord is my helper, I won’t be afraid. What will man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:1-6)

That’s it, the First Class cabin in the Kingdom of Yahweh’s airline … where brotherly love comes first, strangers are treated to hospitality as if they were angels, prisoners are treated as we would want to be treated, we honor God with our bodies sexually, and we are free from a desire for more money.

My prayer for us today is that we will find it in our hearts to pursue quality in our service.

After all, God has given us so much, how can we not give our BEST?


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