Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
September 20, 2015
A servant’s heart the defining mark of a Christian
Jesus said the Spirit of the Lord came upon him and anointed him to preach. I remember when that same thing happened to me.
I had helped to arrange a “youth revival” during my senior year at Wetumpka High School. Several friends shared my excitement about Jesus and we wanted to see teenagers saved from their sins.
The revival is a dim memory now. We had a good turnout but I have no recollection that anyone was saved. All I remember is that one night during that revival the Spirit of the Lord came upon me and I felt called to the ministry. I can take you to the place at the altar where I knelt in tears and said yes to God. I had gone to church to pray for others to be saved and I got called to preach. It was the first of many surprises I have experienced in my journey with God.
The reaction of my family and friends was supportive, unlike the response Jesus received from those he had grown up with in Nazareth. My friends did not become angry and try to push me off the Bibb Graves Bridge. Those listening to Jesus describe his call to preach wanted to throw him off a cliff.
While Jesus seemed to have no doubt about his mission in life, I struggled to understand what it meant to be called to preach. Doubt raged within me. Who was I to claim that the Creator of the world had called me to preach? Uncertainty dogged me during my early years in college. Finally there was a breakthrough. Gradually my doubt gave way to what the church calls “blessed assurance.” That confidence was surely a gift from God for no one can serve well without such inward conviction.
God uses people to bring light into our darkness. He did that for me through the friendship of Elton Trueblood, a Quaker preacher and college professor. He helped me grasp the truth that every Christian is a minister. His teaching made sense. “A non-serving Christian is a contradiction in terms,” he said. “To be a disciple of Jesus is to serve others in love, for God calls all Christians to the ministry of servanthood.”
Trueblood did not mean that every Christian is a pastor or a preacher. By minister he meant a servant of Christ. Every Christian, then, is a ministering servant of Jesus Christ.
Our generation has not fully grasped this meaning of discipleship. We insist on the separation of the secular and the sacred. We see life as divided into separate arenas: the secular and the sacred. But such a dichotomy is a misunderstanding; all of life is sacred and what we call secular is sacred in the eyes of God.
Embrace this concept and you begin to see that God “calls” school teachers to a “ministry” of service to children This same idea brings the dignity of Christian ministry to other vocations such as medicine, law, social service and other disciplines. Wherever there are people with needs, God calls his disciples to see their work as a calling to the ministry of servanthood. Mark it down: the defining mark of a Christian is a servant’s heart!
Work may be gloriously dignified when we see it as a ministry. An attorney, a homemaker, a doctor, a nurse, a teacher, a carpenter, a waitress, a journalist, an attorney, an electrician, a truck driver, an architect, a plumber – each one can see work as “a ministry” honoring Christ by the way people are treated. A “job” can be boring when done simply for money. A “ministry” is exciting when done to the glory of God!
Trueblood’s definition of a Christian is worth remembering: “A Christian is a person who, in the midst of many voices clamoring for his attention, hears the Voice of Christ, and that one Voice wins his complete allegiance and he begins to know the dignity of his little life being used for a mighty purpose.”
No matter where our vocation has placed us, when we hear and obey the Voice of Christ calling us to ministry, we find joy in knowing that our little lives are being used for God’s mighty purposes. That is a joy money cannot provide! And it all begins when the Spirit of the Lord comes upon you! + + +