I don't know about you, but my last week was awesome. Last Sunday, I abandoned all connections with the real world - electricity, phone, Internet, news - and took 27 youth to Boy Scout camp. It was fantastic! There were shooting sports, a lake with no fish to fish in, running, cycling, hiking. I'm sure the Scouts had a blast, too.
But being at camp was a great opportunity for me to reflect on a message about service. Particularly because there were copious opportunities for service while I was at camp.
We Are Made to Work
One man, Chris, has been the Scoutmaster of the troop I work with for several years. He's great at his job, and never shies away from a chance to do work for the Scouts. This man was built to work. As a matter of fact, on Tuesday while I was busy preparing some dessert for the Scouts, he announced quite loudly that he was off to take a shower.
It was only 6pm, so it seemed a bit odd, but to each his own. Well, 3 hours later he strolled back into camp with his shower kit in hand.
What, ran out of hot water after 3 hours?
No. It's so dark I couldn't see the bottom of the hole I was digging any more.
Once again, he was fed up with being idle and went back to work on a project we'd started the day before. There was plenty of work to be done, and he definitely was keeping up with things.
Like Chris, we are all built to work. And there is plenty of Biblical evidence to support this.
Genesis 1:27 is a poem telling the creation story - emphasizing the fact that we are created in the image of God. Genesis 1:1 shows us that our God - our creator - is a God who works. Therefore we, being made in the image of a God who works, are also made to work.
We Are Made for Good Works
My friend, Aaron, is the live-in ranger at the camp we went to last week. I've known him for about 10 years now, and he has a pretty good idea of what I can and can't do. So, when he found out I'd be at camp this year, he put together a to-do list for me. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get to all the tasks he had set up, but I did get through quite a bit of work.
Knowing that your task list is ready and waiting is refreshing. You don't have to plan things on your own; just show up and start working. What kind of work? It doesn't much matter if your list of objectives is pre-planned.
But we were not just made to work, we were made for a specific kind of work. You've probably read Ephesians 2:8-9 or heard it quoted several times - it's a great reminder that we are saved not through our works, but through our faith in Christ. But keep reading through verse 10 and you see that we are still purposed for works; specifically, we are meant to do "good works that were prepared in advance for us to do."
"Good works" is a bit of an ambiguous phrase. But according to one scholar - Martin H. Manser - good works are defined as:
Acts designed specifically to benefit others, which are characteristic of God.
In a nutshell, we were built to work - but not just any kind of work, specifically prepared good works that benefit others. We were made to serve.
We Were Given an Example
One of the first men I met at summer camp when I was 12 was George Beal. He was one of the founders of my favorite camp. To this day, at the age of 96, he still volunteers for at least 1 week a year for each of the camps in the area. He shows up, grabs some hedge clippers, and hikes off down the trail to clear brush.
It's incredible. And he's exactly the kind of person I want to be when I reach that age. The kind who never slows down and never quits giving to a meaningful organization.
As Christians, we are also given an example to follow with regards to service to one another - Christ.
Philippians 2:3-7 provides a detailed example of how Christ gave up privilege and power and made his needs subservient to those of the church in order to reconcile us to God.
This passage, in context, isn’t just about Jesus’ sacrifice for us. It’s part of a greater set of instructions from Paul on how we are meant to relate to one another. We are to look to Christ’s example - how we descended from honor to shame for our sake - in how we treat one another. In how we serve one another.
So today there are really three points you need to remember:
- That we were made expressly for the purpose of working
- That we were made to do specific good works that were prepared in advance
- That we were given the model of Christ to follow as we do these works in the service of others
How can this be reflected in your own life? How can you serve in your job? How can you serve in your family? How can you serve in your extracurricular activities?
How are you meant to serve others and what good works do you feel God calling you to today?