God is in no trouble. He does not need our service, time or talent. To think He does after one has heard the call of God often leads many young believers into wasted years of fruitless labor.
In 1976, when God called me back into missions from the pastorate, one of my first excuses for not moving ahead in obedience was my pulpit. After all, I argued, this church is obviously being blessed, and “God needs me here.”
How foolish! We have to learn that God doesn’t need us anywhere. He is not helpless!
. . . Unless we are willing to see ourselves unknown, unrecognized and working behind the scenes, there is no hope for our spiritual service ever to bear real fruit in the economy of God. This is the main reason why I believe God is no longer pleased with many of the denominations, missions and Christian organizations today.
That is also why it is so important we enter into the servant-heart of Jesus. The Jesus-style is the servant-style, and it is the only acceptable approach to Christian service.
Jesus said that “the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister” (Matthew 20:28). And we are to “let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5).
Individual believers, Christian churches and missions that refuse to recognize servanthood are traitors to the cause of Christ and do untold harm. Sadly, there are many Christians in our day for whom the New Testament concept of servanthood remains a mystery: “And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant” (Matthew 20:27).
Education, family background, talent, beauty, voice, riches and intelligence mean absolutely nothing to God. He doesn’t need our abilities any more than He needs our money.
How sad it is that many talented believers go along for years looking good on the outside, but remaining absolutely useless to the Lord. It is quite possible to be doing the Lord’s work and still not to have entered into servanthood. And so enormous efforts, studies, plans and labor are extended—all uselessly because they cannot stand up to the fires of judgment.
How tragic! And what a contrast from the Spirit-filled service of a surrendered Christian servant. When you really commit yourself to God, He commits Himself to you. Lives are changed. Souls are saved. People are healed in body and spirit. God gives fruit, and the fruit remains.
A great need exists today for believers who will cease chasing their own ambitions, dreams and plans. God is searching for the man or woman who will wait and ask questions like, What do You want me to do? Where do You want me to do it? When do You want me to do it? How do You want me to do it?
Job Description for Servanthood
Often in his writings, the Apostle Paul outlines his job description for servanthood: “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God.”
The Greek word here for servant is doulos or “bondslave.” Now a bondslave is no ordinary servant. There is a huge difference.
An ordinary servant is free. He or she is an employee who checks in at 9 a.m. and out again at 5 p.m. The boss has nothing to say about how this servant spends his or her off-duty hours or salary or what the employee eats or wears. An employer/employee relationship leaves the servant free to marry, choose friends and lead a private life.
The bondslave is a different story. This is the slave described in Deuteronomy 15:16–17 who loves his master so much he chooses voluntary, lifelong slavery. He has entered into a contract with the master, symbolized in a ceremony during which the servant’s ear was pierced.
This kind of servant wants to be a slave. A bondslave has given up future ambitions, family, fortune and personal plans. He has chosen to become the property of another. His life is no longer his own.
By the piercing of the ear, the bondslave is saying to the whole world, “I want to stay with this master forever. My ear is open only to him. I give up all my days and all my nights—my hope of family, mate and money. I will exist to do his will.”The ordinary employee has rights. The slave does not. We need to understand that we who belong to Christ have been called to be His slaves, and we no longer have any rights over our lives. Rarely is it necessary to pump up and motivate such people with applause, awards, prizes or salary.
The Christian who has accepted servanthood as normative has turned over himself or herself to the Lord and says only, “Here am I; send me.”
I keep a little anonymous poem in my Bible that says it so well. This is the kind of servant spirit that God is looking for today.
I am seeking for one who will wait and watch,
for My beckoning hand—My eye.
Who will work in My manner the work I give,
and the work I give not—pass by.
And oh the joy that is brought to Me,
when one such as this I find.
A man who will do all My will,
who is set to study his Master’s mind.
This is what God is calling His people to embrace in these end times—a life of servant-hood. He is challenging us to join the fraternity of the involved, a fellowship of believers who realize the only real truth is truth lived out.
We can go to conferences, listen to music, read books, attend church services—but see no change. What will it take? How can we move from being the best informed Christians in the world to a life of active service? When will our lives begin to conform to what we know and believe? How can we get to that place where we’ll launch out into action instead of merely talk about the lost and suffering millions around us?
The answer is simple. You need to go to the spiritual doorpost of your house and lay your ear against the wood. You need to hand the awl to Jesus and say, “Please, Master, pierce my ear. I want to be Your slave forever!”
There can be no change until we change our attitude from that of the hireling to become bondslaves.
We have to give up our imaginations. We have dreamed up the idea that we can have a conditional employment contract with God. The Bible offers no such thing. We must give up the carefully crafted escape hatches we have designed. Voluntarily we must turn our backs on our excuses for disobedience. Only when we realize that Christ asks for nothing less than unconditional servanthood will we begin to walk in spiritual reality.
Christ is not looking today for cheerleaders, but for athletes who will get into the game and play.
Excerpted from Road to Reality by KP Yohannan. Copyright © 1988, 2011 KP Yohannan. All rights reserved.
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