Message Notes from John Burke:
Forbes magazine just wrote about the Great Resignation—that Covid has caused 2/3 of people to want to quit their jobs to find something more meaningful. As we are all trying to Relaunch our lives, before you quit your job, let’s rethink how to find God’s purpose—and how to Relaunch well, which is what this series is about.
I’ll never forget a moment several years ago
Seeing a mom yelling at her little girl at the store.
And I thought, is there hope?
Is the government going to intervene?
Only if it gets horribly violent, but will that break the cycle?
Is education going to bring healing and kindness, patience and self-control to a mother’s heart?
NO—it’s a spiritual problem.
The church, functioning as God intends, is the only hope!
- Really, that little girl’s only hope is that someone (a neighbor, coworker) who knows God’s love and grace would befriend that family, and pray for that family, and serve that family, share the love of God with that family—and they’d have a place to bring them like this, where that girl could see the love of God lived out through volunteers who serve our kids and students.
- And the mother could connect with our Restore volunteers and others who have found healing, and if she opens her heart to God, He can stop the cycle of abuse.
- And then as they learn about God and how he views people, they will begin to let him change them to serve and restore others.
That exact story keeps happening here over and over!
That’s why the local Church, functioning as God intends IS the hope of the world.
Sitting right around you, or tuning in online are amazing stories of broken lives of parents, kids, singles, marrieds who have found faith, healing, and belonging to become servant-healers at our church.
But that starts by Christ Followers seeing ourselves correctly.
Quick Question—don’t think hard about it, but fill in the blank with the first thought that comes to mind:
- “If I had all the time in the world, I would ____________.” [no wrong answers. be honest].
- Next question: “I will be successful if I _____________.” What comes to mind first
- One more: “When I think greatness I think of ___________?” [Who or what symbolizes greatness to aspire to?].
NOW, how many of us fill in the blanks with the words “serving others.”??? I’ll be honest—it’s not what naturally comes to my mind.
So as we think of Relaunching our lives, not many of us think about how to serve others as a way to Regain a purposeful, truly fulfilling life. And yet Jesus teaches us that very thing.
But society tells us fulfillment comes by having power and influence to make others serve my needs. To get what I want when I want it.
Yet On the night before his crucifixion, Jesus was in a second-story apartment room eating Passover, his last meal with his followers. And scripture records this verse that seems like a contradiction in our society’s eyes.
“Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 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.” John 13:3-5
This says Jesus knew that he had all power available to him.
That he could make anyone do anything as the Son of God who had all power, authority. But then there’s this seemingly insignificant word “SO”—“So…what?”
So knowing he could have anything, do anything, or make anything go his way…what does Jesus do?
Demand respect and service?
Make people do what he wants?
NO – He put a towel across your arm like a servant. It says “he took the posture of a servant.” The lowest servant was the one who would wash people’s feet. Jesus did what the lowest servant in that culture would do.
What an incredible mystery—the Creator of billions and billions of stars, galaxies, the power, the resources, the right to force all Creation to serve him—and yet, Jesus showed us God the Father—the Grand Reversal of all we think—Jesus shows the humility of God, using power to serve rather than be served.
As you Relaunch your life, ask “Why AM I here on this planet?” “How DO I see myself?”
“Am I here to be served? Or am I here to serve?”
Ask yourself that.
Do I see myself as a person who needs to scratch and claw and labor to prove I’m worth Being Served?
Or, do I see myself as worth so much to God, I’m here to serve like He did?
Maybe you have the power, prestige, authority to order around people, maybe you don’t—the critical question is “how do I view myself?”
“As a person here to be served? Or a person here to serve?”
IF we claim to follow Jesus, and He had all the power, prestige, and worth and yet became a servant. Why wouldn’t we follow him?
If He said follow me, I’ll give you abundant, overflowing life and joy, why wouldn’t we follow him?
There are lots of reason—let’s talk about a few as we read on. Because Relaunching your life well—in line with why God put you here—may require a perspective change.
6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” 8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean. John 13:6-11
Jesus said, you don’t serve to be clean before God—He cleanses you when you trust in Him. We don’t earn his love or forgiveness by doing, by serving—we just accept it. But if we follow Him to become who God created us to be—we will serve others–it’s how we love God and find our purpose for being on earth—using our unique gifts and resources and position to help people.
Why don’t we see ourselves as here to serve others?
Same reason Peter didn’t want Jesus to wash his feet.
Important people don’t serve
It’s been pounded into us just like Peter.
It’s interesting if you understand what was going on with Jesus’ disciples.
This is the night before Jesus will lay down his life to serve humanity.
On their way up to Jerusalem, James and John start jockeying for position—thinking Jesus is going to overthrow Rome and rule as an earthly King, they pull Jesus aside and say “hey—We want to be on your left and right in Your Kingdom—we deserve the top 2 cabinet positions.”
Jesus says—you don’t know what you’re asking. Do you know what it takes to be Greatest in God’s Kingdom? Can you follow in my footsteps?
“Oh, yeah—for sure.”
But he was saying, “I’m about to lay down everything for the sake of others—is that the path you’re willing to take James? John?”
When the other 10 find out what they were doing, all 10 start arguing why they deserve the Greatest Positions. Jesus calls a time-out and says—that’s how the world works—great people power up on others, exercise authority over people, force people to do their will…but not if you want to be Great Forever in God’s Kingdom:
Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 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.” Mark 10:43-45
But they still don’t get it–they get to the room, and faux pax of all faux paxs—none of the disciples had arranged a foot washer. A foot washer was cheap labor—lowest paid position on the planet—but everyone forgot. And you couldn’t have a proper Passover with dirty feet, yet when they walked into the room, and each noticed water and a towel but no footwasher, nobody offered to take that lowest role to wash feet. Because Important people don’t serve—unless you’re Jesus! Or truly willing to follow Him!
You’re never Greater, you’re never More Important, than when you Serve Others.
You’re never more like God than when you take the towel to serve.
Do you believe that?
I don’t have time to serve.
We live in the age of busy families.
I remember when we were in the crunch years—kids in dance, soccer, music, etc… you’re like a taxi service non-stop. And as parents, we want to help our kids develop, so we often get them super-involved in all kinds of things–except serving others, or seeing us serve others.
Stop and think about what a mistake that is—do we want to train our kids to think the greatest are those who get the world to revolve around them?
Who never think about others?
Never prioritize God and serving even over Sunday sports leagues?
Does the world really need more self-centered people who spend most of their time developing themselves?
No—you want kids who think of others. And Your kids watch what you do—they copy you.
What are we modeling for our children to follow? We have to make time to model for our kids that You’re never more like God than when you take the towel to serve others.
It’s so cool – I see Parents and kids, working together in guest services. We have more and more Teens who serve younger kids. We’re Growing the next generation to be truly Great Ones who can bring Hope to the world. It’s worth making time for. But some of us may just…
I have other priorities.
Maybe it’s not time, but just priorities.
Maybe you’re Single—and if you’re honest, maybe top priority is finding Mr. or Mrs. Right. Nothing wrong with wanting relationship.
But Singles – how can you best meet the right person?
Think about it—if you’re going places obsessed with finding the right person for you—but you go to places full of people obsessed with finding the right person FOR THEM–not with serving others–but obsessed with finding one to meet his/her needs?
Then you date or marry and both of you have been prioritizing finding a right person to meet all your needs—guess what? It becomes a struggle!
Because you were both becoming the wrong KINDs of people to get what you were hoping for.
What if instead, you focused on becoming the Kind of Person who serves others—you start by serving children, or serving in hospitality, or serving in the food Pantry, our Garden—all kinds of ways you can discover today outside.
And what if there you meet someone who was also growing his/her character by learning to serve others—well now, you’re both becoming the kinds of people who learn to put others first—and you’ll both find what you were looking for. I think about all the singles who met serving—now married with kids:
Kenny and Suzie, Kathleen and David, Nate and Sarah, Amy and Mark—it’s not Dateway—there’s no money back guarantee if you serve and don’t meet your person—but I can guarantee you’ll become more of the kind of person you want to end up with—like attracts like!
Jesus said it’s More Blessed to give than receive –people always find they get more personally from using their gifts and time to make a difference than they ever expected. And the other ironic thing about prioritizing your gifts and abilities only for your glory instead of serving God?
In reality, no one remembers.
People use talents, time, and gifts to prioritize making a name for themselves, but guess what – you will be forgotten.
Want proof of this? What was your great-great grandfather or grandmother’s name? You don’t even remember their names much less what they accomplished.
But check this out, God sees every act of service motivated by love for God, every sacrifice of time for his sake, and he solemnly promises it will never be forgotten.
“He will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.” Hebrews 6:10
He remembers it all—and one day, he will reward you—and show you the Greatest things you did were the faithful acts of serving others.
Why? Because we’re never Greater, never more God-like, than when we prioritize serving others like Jesus did.
So Jesus continues…
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. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. John 13
Jesus says, Do you understand what I’ve done for you? Not really! It’s hard to fathom that the Greatest Being in the Universe, the One who alone deserves to be served, humbles himself to serve others—loving them, healing them, accepting and including them, feeding them, teaching them—yet being rejected, and giving up everything a human can give to meet our greatest need—forgiveness and reconnection to God. You’re never Greater, Never More Important, Never More like God—then when you give of yourself to help others. The smallest act is not too small, the greatest sacrifice is not too great—because you will be blessed for it. Jesus’ promises.
Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” John 13
Jesus says “Don’t just sit there, Do Something.”
Relaunch your life with a posture to serve.
Not to serve Gateway, but to serve God.
Not to serve your employer, but God and the people around you.
It’s first a posture—“God I’m available—You’ve blessed me with gifts, abilities, resources, relationships—how do you want me to partner with you to help others?”
Start asking him.
Look around at work—how might you use what God’s given to serve coworkers?
Open your spiritual eyes to your neighbors—how might God want you to follow Him to meet needs or serve your neighbors?
How about your church—how might God want you to use your time and gifts to serve as part of what He calls His body on earth—the church.
As we simply posture ourselves to serve God—that reprioritization is all He needs to lead us all together into all kinds of very fulfilling acts of service as His Body.
All God needs is our willingness to prioritize using our gifts together, combined with the gifts and efforts of his church around the world, and God does amazing things.
You will be blessed! You will become part of God’s hope for this world. That’s what we’re doing together as we partner with God to love and serve our neighbors and coworkers together as His church.
If you work with someone who is married, odds are about 50/50 he’s having marriage problems—right?
Marriages are breaking apart at alarming rates – and in the wake of all that pain and hurt and turmoil, and apart from God’s church, who will be a force for change? Who’s there to help?
But God has you there—as a hand of his Body reaching out.
As you care, as you listen, have compassion—you’re partnering with God. You may feel totally unequipped to help, but you’re part of a Body, the church. And because we all work together to serve one another with our unique gifts, experiences, and resources, your church has a Marriage Ministry you can connect them to. Led by couples whose marriages God has healed. They understand marriage problems and the power of God to do the impossible.
If your friend’s marriage doesn’t survive, there will be pain.
Ginger (not her real name) had been unfaithful and her marriage failed. She was reeling from the pain and guilt, but she said only one person, a coworker moved in close—Raquel. Raquel barely knew her, but loved her and listened. Though Karen was not a Christ Follower, she said Raquel and others from our church showed her God’s love and grace tangibly. As Karen revealed more, Raquel assured her God will forgive and help her heal. Karen found faith, and healing as Raquel got her connected to our Divorce Care ministry—run by volunteers helping people heal and grow after divorce. Our Divorcecare for Kid’s ministry helps kids going through family crisis and trauma. You may not feel equipped to help, but you’re part of Christ’s Body, the church. As we serve in various ministries—we bring Hope to the World.
If you live near or work near people in their 20’s, 1 out of every 5 will struggle with an alcohol or drug addiction.
What can you do?
You can love and serve that person, and you can connect them to our Recovery ministry run by volunteers like Tom—my good friend who found faith here and broke a 38 year Cocaine addiction. For 10 years he’s been leading and sponsoring in Gateway’s Recovery. On and on I could go…Who will care and be a force for change in our world? You will—Jesus followers Relaunching your lives as servants of the Most High God, ready serve and care for neighbors and coworkers, and using our gifts and time in various ministries to serve—together God brings Hope to our World.