"Can you serve in the nursery this morning?" As you try to pick one of the more plausible excuses that have popped into your head, you secretly hope the pastor's question was theoretical.With these opening lines Nate Palmer begins our journey into what Christian service is all about in his book, Servanthood as Worship: The Privilege of Life in a Local Church. He seeks to answer the big questions of why, who, and where do we serve.
In the first chapter Nate looks at his own experiences of service and the messed up motives and reasoning that tend to drive us.
My service was like the volume knob on a car stereo - I could amplify God's opinion of me by serving more. If I'd had a bad week, frequently giving in to temptation or not reading the Bible, I would just go to church early and serve. In my mind, the exchange was like one act of service for one sin.His service eventually went from trying to earn grace, to trying to gain prominence.
Servanthood took on a useful new role - a springboard to leadership in the church.While we can easily spot his mistakes, how often do we see them in ourselves?
In chapter three, he makes the point that as Christians, the context, the place of finding and contributing our service is with in the organism of the local church. It is here that we can learn to serve one another and grow in Christ-likeness. This is one of his best contributions to the study. So many have written off local church attendance and participation, but Palmer reasons that God has larger goals and purposes in mind for us, in not neglecting the assembling of ourselves together. He is aware of the issues that many bring up concerning church, yet offers this in reply.
The beautiful thing is that God meets us in the mess. People are served in the mess. Ultimately, Christ will redeem the mess. One reason the church is the primary context for serving is because it is where messy people go when they know they need help.The rest of the book is dedicated to explaining how servanthood is worship, and how we can serve based on what God has done, and continues to do for us. Everything is well written, understandable, and convicting. Many of us, myself included, fail in offering our lives in service to God and others. We simply would rather do what we want to do, as opposed to what God has called us to do. Selfishness and pride, these two sins most often keep us from our role as servants.
Nate Palmer does an excellent job laying out the biblical view of servanthood, in a book that would probably work quite well as a small group study. If only there was someone to step up and lead it....Well look at the time. I'd better get going, much to do you know.
All excerpts from the Kindle edition of Servanthood as Worship: The Privilege of Life in a Local Church