THE HANDS OF GOD
During the special music service that Nancy and her team prepared for us just before the summer break, I was struck by the many hands that were involved to prepare such a lovely morning of worship.
The hands of the musicians. The hands sweeping the bat droppings off of the front porch, those preparing the bulletin, or updating the website. Those that help collect the offering, check that the power was on and working, mowed the lawn, arranged ﬂowers. Rang the bell. All those
hands, and more, offering service to others.
I began thinking about the gift of HANDS, and how wonderfully made humans are, with amazing tools to accomplish so many things.
Then I began reﬂecting on the concept of service. What does Christian service look like?
Let’s start by thinking about what we very often think Christian service means. Here’s some examples:
-becoming a missionary
-becoming a pastor or preacher or leading worship in church
-teaching Sunday School
-feeding the poor and homeless
-doing street ministry
-giving tithes and offerings
-donating money or useful items to charity
-supporting a child through World Vision, Samaritan’s purse, or other works
-visiting people in prison
-visiting the sick or inﬁrm
So I am wondering if the above list of Christian service, which are all important and valuable, is completely representative. For those of us who are NOT doing those things, is there anything else? Or do we relegate ourselves to the back-bench of Christianity, failing to see our value.
Obvious acts of service can be politicized and honoured above the unseen ones. So, do we serve God in order to earn a golden halo? Or to earn points in Heaven? Is service a one-time act, or a repeating action?
Do we look for recognition for our acts of service? Are we disappointed when no one notices how clean the church is, or how many hours we spend helping others? When we are called to stand before God, does He look at our list of charitable works and judge us on that?
Or is service to God an on-going way of being? So where does Service ﬁt in our faith life?
Matthew 25: 34-46 Here Jesus says to His disciples (who were asking about the ﬁnal judgement), that whatever we
do in service to others, we are actually doing unto Him. Conversely whatever we did NOT do that we could have done, we also did not offer to Him. He is outlining what Christian works actually is, but do we actually understand what He is saying?
Another question: what is Christian service FOR anyway? What is the ultimate purpose of serving God?
Whenever I have questions like this, I like to go to the Bible to see what Jesus said.
We read in the book of Matthew where Jesus was answering questions of the church leaders, questions designed to catch him out. They sure did not like His simple and profound teaching.
Too many people were starting to be too interested!
Finally he says this: Matthew 22:34-40 “Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an
expert in the law, tested him with this question: Teacher which is the greatest commandment in the Law? Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the ﬁrst and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbour as yourself” All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.
Did you catch that? What Jesus is saying here, is the same as he said to his disciples.
Loving your neighbour is serving God.
Let’s look more closely at what he said.
-Loving God with all your heart mind and soul. That speaks of total commitment to God. There’s not too much room for anything else when we are called to love Him with ALL our heart. It speaks of a heart full of God’s character, a heart that we have allowed God to ﬁll. It speaks of a mind thinking in pathways that lead to goodness and kindness. It speaks of a soul that is sold-out to God, that knows who he or she is, a soul who knows whom they worship and serve. It speaks of a monumental act of surrender, of a conscious opening up to the Holy Spirit to allow Him to ﬁll us.
-Loving your neighbour as yourself. Certainly if God is not number one, then who is? That’s easy. Me myself and I! It’s is very very difﬁcult for a human to put self aside and put God first.
But Jesus said that every other law or commandment in all of life is covered by these two statements. Loving our neighbour means extending kindness. Being generous. Showing good-will. Lending a helping hand when possible. Perhaps it could mean a bit of self-sacriﬁce.
Practising an attitude of non-judgement. Not cheating, stealing or similar. It shows surrender to God. God is Love.
Any behaviour that is unkind, unjust or stingy is actually done unto God, because it is actually in disobedience to God’s commandment and therefore a rejection of Him. That sounds serious!
A heart that is surrendered to God loves his neighbour as himself.
When our kids were young, we had a discussion at the breakfast table every morning before school. We would read a Bible passage then apply it to events and situations in every day life.
Basically everything boils down to how to apply these 2 commandments to everyday situations. It was helpful, in this way, to apply Biblical truths to “real” life, which is often the dilemma for believers. How to take faith into our every day lives.
So if Jesus has commanded us to love God, be fully surrendered to Him, be ﬁlled with His love, and to honour others, how does doing those things translate into service?
What do we “do with our hands”, as it were.
The question that pops into mind is: Why did Jesus come to earth anyway?
He says He came to give us Life.
John 3: 16 says “for God so loved the world, that he gave His only son that whoever believes on Him should not perish but may have eternal life”.
He also said that God does not want anyone to be lost.
In the parable of the lost sheep, Jesus said in Matthew 18 “what do you think, if a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?” For those of us who know what sheep are like, you
can visualize that one sheep who wandered off. Walking around blindly bleating and of course going in the complete wrong direction! It needs help! He continues: “And if he ﬁnds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off.
In the same way your Father in heaven is NOT WILLING that any of these little ones should be lost”
It seems God’s plan is that we all should come to know Him. He wants us to be in relationship with Him. So THAT is why Jesus came. So none of us should be lost. His plan is to bring us all to Himself, and his commandment is to love him, and out of that to love others.
Now I want you to think of someone in your life whom you remember most fondly. Maybe someone from your childhood or adolescence, a parent or grandparent. Or a business colleague or neighbour. Or even someone entirely unknown to you. Someone who had a memorable positive effect on your life.
Now that you have someone in mind, ask this question. Why them? Why do they matter? what did they do? What motivated that person to act in a way that made you remember them in fondness today? Just hold that thought as we continue.
God tells us to be ﬁlled with the Spirit, and the Spirit of God is Love. Be ﬁlled with Love. When that Love overﬂows out of our lives, it renders service to others.
God didn’t call us to believe on Him then go DO acts of service. He told us to LOVE HIM. The acts of service are simply a CONSEQUENCE of the fullness of God’s love in our lives.
George told me the other day he heard doctor James Dobson of Focus on the Family talk about his health journey, and how a doctor had told him he had to lose weight or he might not live that long. Dr. Dobson said he then quit eating sugar. He didn’t diet or think of dieting. He just quit eating sugar only. And he lost 30 pounds. He even said “I didn’t diet or anything, I just quit eating sugar”. He didn’t focus on the result, just on the one act.
This concept is what God is talking about when He calls us to serve Him. He has called us to love Him. That is all. To focus on that one act.
We serve God by BEING. By being in our lives and continually surrendering that life to God, for His inﬁlling of love. We really don’t need to plan or ﬁgure out WHAT to do, we simply need to open ourselves to the love of God, and it automatically affects the world around us.
Simply being there in the midst of life, overﬂowing with the love of God. Love that ﬂows like a river, spreading out wherever we go, touching others no matter who they are or what their situation.
And we have many tools at our disposal to express or release that love to our neighbour. We have HANDS. We have tongues. We have feet. We have attitude. We may have wealth or power or position. We may have NO wealth or power or position. But we have the love of God that overﬂows and becomes service to Him and to others.
The Bible tells us to not hide our light under a bushel. What is our light? And why does our light need to be seen, and by whom?
Matt 5:14-16..you are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds (the work of your hands) and praise your Father in Heaven”. Because it is a beacon, like a lighthouse that warns of danger and shows people the way to safety. A light a draws life to it.
Not only moths or bugs are attracted to the light. We are also drawn to the light. The love of God in us glows like a beacon, and leads people to God.
Now think back to that person you chose when I asked you to recall someone whom you remember with fondness. Very possibly it is because he or she was simply living the love of God
in everyday life, simply being there with his or her light shining. Not necessarily preaching or teaching, just being there.
We can be that person that someone else remembers as inﬂuential in their lives.
Lift up your hands and look at them. They are beautiful tools to serve God. Psalm 139:14 says “For you formed me in my inwards parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb; I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made”.
Your hands might be bent or broken, small or large, long ﬁngered or stubby ﬁngered, weak or strong. They are fearfully and wonderfully made. Look at the pictures of the hands on the front of the bulletin. Those are actual photos I took of hands in this room. Look at your hands. They are yours only. They are your tools.
I have a story about my hands. As a child, of course I never thought about what my hands looked like. But one day when I was in Bible school I think, I was in the Greyhound bus depot coffee shop, having a snack or drink or whatever, waiting for the time to board the bus to go
home for the weekend. There was a guy sitting there who decided he would try it on with me. After I rejected his advances, he tried to punish me, I suppose, for rejecting him, by saying “What big hands you have, they are like man hands. What girl has hands like that!
For years afterwards I was embarrassed about my hands. I never wore rings or bracelets to being attention to them or nail polish etc. Finally I decided I did not want some questionable person to be in charge of how I felt about any part of myself, and got over it.
Then just a few years ago I was going through some old photos and found one of my great great grandmother from Switzerland. My hands are exactly like hers.
No matter what our hands are like, they are a symbol of a life in service to God, hands that are full of goodness and that reach out to the world around us. For God does not want any one to be lost.
We don’t need to “go on a diet”. We don’t need to agonize over where we can be of use to God.
We don’t need to look at the Christian service list and ﬁnd ourselves lacking or incapable. Those are very important and very valuable kinds of service, but they are not all.
The thing is, we don’t need to worry about what kind of service we can or cannot do. We are all different and placed in our lives with a light to shine.
All we have to do is open our hearts, mind and soul to the spirit of God, the spirit of love, and He will light our lamp and ﬁll our hands.
The rest, as they say, is easy.
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