8 Things Jesus Tried to Teach His Disciples, Lesson Two: Serve. That was today’s sermon. Our pastor did a fine job dealing with ideas like finding joy in serving others…. reflecting God’s character by setting aside your own ‘rights’ to serve others…. the last shall be first and the first shall be last….. and of course my extra-favorite, the whole ‘it’s not about me’ thing. A quote from this morning: “We stop pursuing true greatness and we stop reflecting God’s glory when we refuse to ‘pick up the towel'”.
But honestly, I have questions.
I have often heard it said/preached that we are to always put the wants of others before our own wants. That we are to serve others, regardless of our own need. It’s sort of the ultimate in being a virtuous person. It could also be the shortcut to becoming the ultimate doormat…. the consistent martyr…. the identity-free co-dependent. And that doesn’t seem like a thing to be. So, conversely, I also find lots of talk about taking care of myself, ‘refueling’ and ‘refilling’. This can be wrapped in faith terms or not. So which is it, and do I have to choose? Am I to always to only serve others? What happens when I get those ’empty’ signs from within? Should the things I need always literally take a back seat? Should I build in time for the things that I think ‘refuel’ me, or should the consistent selflessness of serving be fulfilling in itself? What if I’m an introvert, and spending time around people eventually exhausts me? Does it ‘count’ for serving if I’m doing something that’s not with people?
OK, and here it is a bit more bluntly: Is complete denial of self (I must be denied everything I want) truly a Biblical teaching? And by questioning that, have I given in to the consumeristic culture?