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WHAT CAN YOU DO?
#2 Serve on a Team

by Delbert Young
(video audio page)

#2 serve on a team - what can you do?

So, if you ask, "What Can You Do?" to help, the first thing is Connect in a small group - Life Group. #2 is "Serve" and specifically serve on a team. Everything we do around here is done through team work. It's the principle of synergy we talked about last time (Ecc 4:9-12).

I want to begin by asking you a question. Traditionally, when most people think about "church" do they think of a fun, exciting, and look forward to their experience, or think of something boring? I think the answer is boring. How do we change that? Jesus wasn't boring. Christianity shouldn't be boring. It's the teams who change it. If you're not enjoying church, it's your fault. You establish the environment. Fix it, right?

Mark 10:35-37, 41 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. "Teacher," they said, "we want you to do for us whatever we ask." "What do you want me to do for you?" he asked. They replied, "Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory." ...When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John.

James and John felt entitled. In Matthew's account (Mat 20:20) their mother told Jesus they were entitled. Perhaps they felt they had a special relationship with Jesus. They felt entitled whatever the reason, but so did the other ten feel entitled. In fact, so much so, they became indignant - expressively angry.

A huge problem in America is what we've come to call "entitlement." "Entitlement" is a newly used word. Maybe the best way I can make certain you know what I mean by entitlement is when your child thinks you owe them the next hot thing - the newest thing, the most popular thing, the most expensive thing - toy, iPhone, iPad, Xbox, PS3, clothes, and on and on. Everybody else has one so they're entitled to one too. They don't care how much it cost, or how much money you make, or how much you're in debt. If you're a parent you just understood entitlement. Our nation is hemorrhaging from entitlement. People producing nothing, not working, and paying no taxes feel entitled to the identical benefits those who do work, produce, and pay taxes receive. From where do people get this ideal?

Mom, every take your child on an Easter Egg Hunt where there was no separation of the big kids and the toddlers? The children were released. Your toddler was knocked down and about the time he'd squat to pick up an egg, a bigger kid, who already had 10 pounds of eggs, grabbed the egg. Your child cried. You complained, "That's not fair. We were here in line like everyone else. My child's entitled to eggs too!" The big kid's mom says, "No. My kid's entitled to the eggs. They got them first." My point is our children learn entitlement from us.

Dad, have you ever been on an "After Thanksgiving" or "After Christmas" sale? They advertise 60" Flat Screen TVs for $299.99 and you want one. You get up at 3 a.m. to be first in line only to find others camped out all night. You're about the 50th in line. There are ten 60" flat screens, 49 people in front of you, and 200 behind you. You've convinced yourself everyone in front of you isn't going after the flat screens. The doors finally open. Pandemonium! People are trampled. By the time you get to electronics one TV is left and you get into a fist fight for the last one. You say, "I'm entitled to the TV."

Let's imagine Jesus shows up in electronics. How would he settle the situation? Who gets the television? Who doesn't? Does he do what Solomon did and say, "Let's cut it in half?" Does he say the faster, stronger, more powerful get it? Stranger yet - imagine Jesus at the Easter Egg Hunt??? First, he'd probably say, "Seriously? I go to the cross, die, and rise from the dead and you hunt eggs and argue over them?" Anyway, who gets the eggs? Which child is entitled? Is the bigger, faster, stronger, and more powerful entitled? Or, is the smaller and weaker? Does he count them all out and divide equally?

To what do you feel entitled? How about your time? It's your day off. How about your money? You earned it. How about your abilities and skills? What does Jesus say about your entitlement? What did he say to the disciples?

Mark 10:41-45 When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. Jesus called them together and said, "You know that those who are regarded as RULERS of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their HIGH OFFICIALS exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become GREAT among you MUST be your SERVANT, and whoever wants to be FIRST must be SLAVE OF ALL. FOR EVEN THE SON OF MAN DID NOT COME TO BE SERVED, BUT TO SERVE, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

Jesus sets up the chain of authority in the world. There are "rulers" who "lord it over them" and "high officials" who "exercise authority over" the "rulers." Jesus says in his kingdom the "rulers" are the "servants" - diakonos {dee-ak'-on-os} and the highest - the "high official" is the "slave." A slave? No, Slave of all. It's a different word - doulos {doo'-los} and means base slave. The guy at the bottom of slavery expected to do anything. Who wants to be a slave? That even sounds offensive and exactly what Jesus intended.

Jesus said listen guys, we've been through this before. It doesn't work with true Christ followers like it works in the world. In the world, people power up and use their abilities, time, money - entitlements - to lord over others and serve themselves. "Not so with you." It's good to be successful, be a ruler, and in authority. I want you to be leaders, but with me successful people serve. With me whoever is entitled to be first must be slave of all. Serving shows your position in the kingdom of God.

If you are a Christ follower, this invades every aspect of your life. For example, we all feel entitled to our time. It's your weekend. It's your day off. You're entitled to do with your time what you want and you're absolutely correct. It's your egg. It's your TV. You powered up and used your abilities to acquire it. You're entitled, but Jesus invades your entitlements.

The question isn't if you are entitled. You are. Jesus doesn't disagree. The question is (if you're a Christ Follower there is no question) what will you do with what you are empowered (abilities) and entitled? If we get it right, we change and we change people. We use and leverage our entitlements to serve, not for personal greed. Then we trust God to bless us.

Mom, what if the big kid at the Easter Egg Hunt noticed your little child didn't have eggs? So, the big kid with 10 pounds of eggs gave your child some of his eggs. What would that do to your heart? Your child wouldn't cry. You'd hug the big kid, or want to. Your child would be so happy. What impression would the big kid have made on your child? What if the guy you were fist fighting for the last TV who camped out all night to get it said, "Here man. You can have it. I've got four TVs in my house. I didn't know there were only 10 TVs?" You'd want to hug him, well, maybe not, but there would be no fight, no indignation. Every time you watched the TV you'd remember the man's kindness who served you with his entitlement. What if we all served with our entitlements instead of greedily empowering ourselves? What type environment could we create?

Not long after Jesus put the disciples in "time out" correcting their entitlement issues and only hours before Jesus was arrested, humiliated, tortured, executed, died, and buried, Jesus sent disciples to prepare for the Passover. The Passover is the most spine-chilling of all the Jewish feasts. It was a feast rehearsing in detail how the death angel went through Egypt killing the first born unless the blood of a lamb was on the door posts. It's not a bedtime story to tell your children. That was the mood in the room at the last Passover - very somber and appreciative of the power of the lamb's blood.

John 13:1 It was JUST BEFORE the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, HE NOW SHOWED THEM THE FULL EXTENT OF HIS LOVE.

What's Jesus about to do? How do we show the extent of our love? The Passover Feast would officially begin the next day, but that was the day Jesus would die as the true Lamb fulfilling the Passover - ending the Old Covenant and beginning the New Covenant. Jesus was slain on the Cross as Passover lambs were slain.

John 13:2 The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. JESUS KNEW that the Father had put ALL THINGS UNDER HIS POWER, and that he had come from God and was returning to God

To what was Jesus entitled? Jesus knew he was the most powerful person ever. "Father had put all things under his power." So, what does the most powerful person - the person with all entitlements - do? That's important to understand what happen next.

John 13:4-5 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

Jesus didn't strip down. What he did was far more impressive. He was a rabbi and rabbis wore an outer garment identifying them as a rabbi (Luk 8:44). Jesus took off his rabbi - authority - garment. "What's he doing?" had to be everyone's question. He picked up a towel and wrapped it around his waste.

Though Jesus knew he was the most powerful person in the universe, he became a slave. He was entitled to have his feet washed. Instead, he leveraged his entitlement and empowerment to serve.

John 13:8 "No," said Peter, "you shall never wash my feet." Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have NO PART WITH me."

Peter realizing the hands with the power to raise the dead, open blinded eyes, heal diseases, drive out demons, do anything, should not be washing his nasty feet said, "I don't think so." Of course Jesus did. Jesus washes all our nasty feet.

The way people connect with us is by our serving them. Unless we serve people, they have no part with us. Serving is a secret to the kingdom of God.

John 13:12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and RETURNED TO HIS PLACE. "DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT I HAVE DONE FOR YOU?" he asked them.

What he did for them was show the full extent of his love by serving.Jesus didn't just sit down with the towel when done. After serving, he put on his rabbi clothes and returned to his place. He never lost his entitlement. He leveraged his entitlement to serve. He's the same powerful person.

John 13:14-15 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I HAVE SET YOU AN EXAMPLE THAT YOU SHOULD DO as I have done for you.

How do we do that? What does Jesus say about our entitlements - our time, money, abilities, and empowerments? He says great. Well done (Mat 25:21). He's thrilled you used what he's given you to be successful. Now use it to serve others.

When people think "church," when people think "Life Gate Church," what should they think? They may think, "I don't agree with all the stuff that guy says, but goodness, those people are amazing. I felt like they would wash my feet if I took my shoes off." Then Jesus said this:

John 13:17 Now that you know these things, YOU WILL BE BLESSED IF YOU DO THEM.

That's not how we think is it? We think we are blessed if we are served. Actually, God promises a special blessing if we serve. I love how Jesus said it's got to go further than to "know these things." I think we all know we should serve. He said, "You will be blessed if you do them."

I was thinking about this. Life Gate has been successful for all these years. It's not because of me. It's because people, entitled to their time, their money, their abilities, their empowerments, have taken what they were entitled and instead of using it for them, used it to serve others. They, as it were, wash our nasty feet every week so we can come and enjoy a good meal at God's table. As I look at every one of them, they are blessed. There are tremendous rewards for serving.

All of us know every successful organization must do specific things to exist. It's this way in your occupation. There are certain critical issues your company must do to succeed and if your company gets the critical things right, everything else goes right. These must be done correctly constantly - every time.

For us, the "got to get it right every time" relates to what happens right here during the one hour we are here. But, hours and hours and the serving of lots of people go into what you see happen in one hour.

This includes (1) Greeting Team - the sermon begins in the parking lot, notes, bulletin, coffee/snacks; (2) Child Care Team - nursery, toddler class, children's church; (3) Production Team - computer presentations, cameras, media; (4) Praise and Worship Team; and, from time to time, the (5) Special Events Team. There's more than this going on, i.e. (6) Life Groups, (7) Missions, (8) Ladies Ministry, and (9) Student Ministries. All those can use help too. What makes our experience enjoyable is not my preaching. What makes it work are the teams.

This is what keeps people coming back. This is what causes Sunday to be a great experience. This is what allows you to focus on God while here. This is what ministers to your children. This is what allows you to feel the presence of God. This is what caused your husband or your wife to begin worshiping with you. You may have said, "I really didn't like the message, but I sure did enjoy the singing." Or, "My children really enjoyed their classes." This is where we need you to help.

I realize some of us say, "I don't want to baby sit," or "I'm not a children's teacher," or "I'm not what ever." Realize, we don't want you to do something you're not good at. Here's why. You're no good at it. The last thing I want you to do is bore children. The goal is to create an environment that is fun for us all, children included.

The good news is there are so many things you can do. There are so many things in church to bring creativity out of you that will add to our creating an environment that will not be a traditional boring experience. You have a skill set and I need you to connect with a team and help us help people. Help us change lives. Help us make it possible for people to encounter God.

"What Can You Do?" Serve on a Team. You are entitled to your time. It's your time and skills. That's not the question. What are you doing with what you are entitled and empowered?

 

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