Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
March 3, 2019
Serving Jesus is not complicated
Christians are Jesus people. They believe in Jesus. They follow Jesus. They worship Jesus. They tell others the good news that Jesus can save them from their sins and put a new song in their hearts. And they serve Jesus – in a thousand different ways.
Serving Jesus is not complicated. The main thing to remember is that you must do more than talk about Jesus. Talking is never enough. Preachers, who talk a lot about Jesus, learn that quickly in pastoral ministry. No matter how well a preacher may talk, people do not take his words seriously until they see that he or she “walks like he talks.” Words are simply words until they become “flesh,” in deeds of love and mercy. Deeds authenticate words.
So how do you go about serving Jesus? Well, you don’t wait for the church to ask you to go to Nicaragua as a missionary. You simply notice the people around you, wherever you are, at home, at work or elsewhere. You start “seeing” people rather than ignoring them. You stop thinking constantly about yourself; you think about the people around you. What are their needs? You ask yourself, is there some way I can help this person or that person? And that is when you start talking to Jesus, in your mind, asking him to show you how to “care” about someone whose needs you might be able to meet.
Keep it simple. You are not trying to prevent someone from having a stroke. A family member, or a colleague at work, may need a friendly word of encouragement. You can serve Jesus by providing that. People need encouragement. Encouragement helps us all. So be intentional about offering it to the people around you.
There are lonely people everywhere. Look for one whose life you might brighten by some kind gesture. It is so easy to ignore people. I do it . You do it. I was on my way into a nursing home to deliver a prayer shawl to a 93-year-old friend. As I walked through the front door, an old man was standing there, looking out as though he was expecting someone. I walked past him without making eye contact and without so much as a nod.
Locating the room of my friend, I presented him with a beautiful shawl, royal blue, with three white crosses embroidered on it. I told him how several women had made it, anointed it with oil, and prayed that God would bless him whenever he draped it around his shoulders. Tears filled his eyes. I held his hand and prayed with him.
Minutes later, as I am nearing the front entrance to leave, I notice the old man whom I had ignored is still standing there, gazing forlornly outside. I felt Jesus nudging me to stop and speak to him. He seemed startled when I said hello. I asked how he was. He said, “just fine,” as though he did not want a conversation with me. I made no effort to move on and said, “Nice weather we are having. Have you lived here long?”
He seemed to relax a bit and replied, in a more friendly tone, “I have lived here about two years, since my wife died.” I said, “It seems like a nice place to live.” Since he was still looking outside, I said, “Are you expecting someone to take you for a ride?” My heart sank as he said slowly, “No, I was just hoping my son would come by but I guess he is too busy.” I wondered how long he had been standing at the door, looking for his son.
I knew then I needed to stay a while longer. There was a bench by the wall so I suggested we sit for a spell. I introduced myself and soon he was telling me about his career as a civil engineer and how he had worked in Oklahoma and Virginia and finally retired in Montgomery. Fifteen minutes later, feeling he was open to it, I asked if I could pray with him and he said, “I would like that.” When I finished praying, he smiled and thanked me.
I walked outside, got in my car and sat there for several minutes, thinking, praying, wondering, almost in tears. Engulfed with sadness, I breathed a sigh of relief. I almost missed the chance to take a few minutes and “care” about a lonely old man who was looking for a busy son who never showed up. I finally composed myself and drove away but not before saying to the Lord, “If one day I am that old man, in a nursing home, looking outside and wishing a son would come to see me, please let some old preacher stop and pray with me.”
So, the next time you are wondering how to serve Jesus, get in your car and drive out to a nursing home. Any nursing home. There is one in almost every town and many in the larger cities. You don’t have to visit a particular person. Just walk in the lobby and look around. Walk down the halls and smile or speak to the people who are sitting in wheelchairs in the hallways.
You will see a man with no legs, a woman who no longer recognizes her own children, a man who looks at you with pleading eyes and says, “Will you take me home?” In some rooms you will see old people who have been abandoned, some who have not been touched by a family member or friend for weeks. You will see some people who are waiting to die and wondering why it is taking so long.
You don’t have to help them all. Just pick out one person and care about him or her for a little while. Cheer someone up. Offer encouragement. Give someone a little hope. Take someone’s hand and offer a simple prayer. Smile. Relate. Identify. Care!
Stop by the nurses’ station and interrupt them for 30 seconds. Tell them you really appreciate the loving care they provide for the patients.
Then, when you get home and put your head on a pillow, you can pray a prayer like this: “Thank you Jesus for letting me serve you today.” It really is not complicated. + + +