Life of Faith and Serving
In the case of domestic disability ministries, there are several requirements; the first is the will of individuals with disabilities, the second is the cooperation of their families, and the third is the service of volunteers. These three things must work together in harmony to effectively organize gatherings for the disabled. A long time ago, I was incredibly moved and felt great anticipation when the senior pastor of a local church who was about to retire sincerely told me that “he would serve as a volunteer at Shalom after retirement”. However, it has been many years since then, he has never given us so much as a phone call, let alone visited our Ministries. Serving seems to be quite a challenge.
For our Ministries, the number of families with disabled members attending worship service has decreased significantly, but the number of volunteers has also noticeably decreased throughout the close to three-year-long pandemic. It is even difficult to find paid employees. People around me often say that not many people want to work. Due to the prolonged pandemic, it has already become such a strange world, and we are living in an era where we struggle to predict how it will continue to change in the future. I think the ministry most impacted by the pandemic is the mercy ministry. Because of that, I have realized the importance of this specific ministry. God rejoices in it, and it helps measure the current state of the faith of the saints.
Christian life and serving have an inseparable relationship. Jesus Himself declares His purpose for coming to this earth: “Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many”(Mat 20:28). What He mentions here refers to the substitutionary death on the cross, the ultimate act of service, but in general, the word “service” is used in relation to feeding the saints, that is, volunteering to serve tables(Acts 6:2). The words diakonos (deacons) and diakonia (ministry, pastoral care) are derived from diakoneo (serve) in their original language. Therefore, all the saints, whether we are pastors or laymen, must be the ones to serve others. In other words, a life of faith is a life of serving.
The Apostle James emphasizes faith accompanied by works in his letter(James 2:8-26). Serving can be recognized as a life of practicing love. It looked like many people misunderstood the nature of faith at that time. I believe that is why James emphasized works. However, faith is something that must accompany the works. Why is it that the saints of then and now could not and cannot live the life of serving?
First, it is because there are no expectations for heavenly rewards.
Most believers are concerned about salvation, but they do not appear very interested in receiving rewards. In the end, this reveals they did not have true faith. This is what the writer of the book of Hebrews says. “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him”(11:6). Paul the Apostle said, “Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day–and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing”(2 Timothy 4:8). We see his confidence and expectation for rewards.
Second, it is because we have no desire to sacrifice ourselves.
Particularly during the pandemic, it is clear that people are rapidly becoming heartless as they grow more selfish and self-centered, a sentiment that echoes in 2 Timothy 3:1~5. However, Christianity has always been a belief that demands sacrifice. This is the word of Jesus: “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me”(Mat 16:24). This means we cannot be the disciples of Jesus if we do not sacrifice ourselves.
Third, it is because we love the world more than God.
Would it not be reasonable to say our greatest sin is loving the world more than God? We cannot live a life of service because we prioritize the complacency and pleasure that the world offers us. John the Apostle said, “Do not love the world nor the things in the world If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him”(1 John 2:15). Someone who loves the world will not be able to live a life of real service.
There are very few volunteers in our Ministries. How grateful I am for their precious and beautiful service! Volunteering to serve is meant to serve those in need of help at the time they want, in the way they want, rather than how and when I prefer to serve. It is getting harder and harder to find those who are willing to serve. That is why the Lord Himself said, “However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”(Luke 18:8b). Your genuine service (faith with works) will never lose its reward.