In away, serve encapsulates simplify and sacrifice. This is about living with an outward view. Which calls for radically reorganizing the contours of our hearts because we are born looking inwardly and serving ourselves. Which is what the Gospel is all about—getting new hearts and looking at our world in a different way than is natural.
There are so many ways and places to serve that it sometimes feels overwhelming. I could stay in Poland and love people who don’t know Jesus and need Him so desperately. As an English teacher, I could do the same thing anywhere in the world. I hear my cousin’s Liberia stories and I just got done reading Kisses from Katie and I know that if I’d go to Africa (or India) (or Cambodia) and touch those children’s hair and feel their tears on my cheeks, something would break deep inside me and I could never be the same again.
We all applaud serving sick children in far-away places, and pouring out our lives on behalf of poor people in other countries. It all sounds exciting and exotic and news-worthy.
But sometimes the most important thing we can do is serve the person beside us. The brother who’s always asking favors from you. Or the neighbor who irritates you every morning. It’s all very easy to talk about serving someone in the Far East. It feels a little different when you realize you don’t have to step outside your living room to serve.
Last January I had the huge honor of visiting at Sharon Mennonite Bible Institute the same night they were having their term banquet. Instead of asking parents and friends to come pamper them for an evening of finery, they invited neighbors up and down the roads around the school. The students cooked the food and served and played music and sang for and visited with the guests. I happened to be a guest of the administrator’s wife, so I got in on it too. I was eating delicious food in a beautifully decorated gym and the pianist was playing “Shine Jesus Shine” and I wanted to melt into a puddle of tears. Vibrant, gifted young people were working and smiling and serving their world and it was so beautiful and right it made me cry.