What It Means To Serve
Updated: Mar 11, 2019
Let’s have an honest moment here. Have you ever had to stifle an involuntary groan threatening to escape your lips when a ‘certain’ camper steps off the bus? You know, the time when a really fake smile is plastered across your face but inside you are thinking, “He can’t still be a junior camper, can He?” Have you ever honed your ‘run and hide’ skills when a ‘beloved’ Family Camp attender armed with her inevitable list of demands is headed your way? Or maybe it’s that ‘guy’ who needs to explain to your cook what a vegan meal really looks like (every pickin year!) at your Men’s Retreat. We are in the business of loving and serving but there are people who seem bound and determined to make that task nigh unto impossible…or so it seems at the time.
When that happens, I try and remember Ananias from the book of Acts. No! Not that Ananias from chapter four who dropped dead in front of Peter (shame on you for thinking that). I’m talking about the Ananias from chapter nine. He is the one generally lost in the amazing story of Saul’s conversion but who I think is the real hero in that account.
Ananias was a leader, if not ‘the’ leader of a group of believers in Damascus. So, he was like us. And one night he gets an audible word from the Lord in a vision (ok, maybe not so much like us). He is given directions to a house on Straight Street and told to ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. The instructions continued but I don’t think Ananias heard much past that because he knew who Saul was – oh, boy did he!
It was said of Saul that he was “uttering threats with every breath and eager to kill the Lord’s followers.” His poster was on the church bulletin board with the note – ‘Beware of this man!” He clearly was public enemy number one. They knew who he was, where his passions lie and what he was planning to do in their town. The only good news coming to Ananias was that Saul was now blind.
So when the Lord got his attention back and he heard that his task included restoring Saul’s’ sight and then introducing him around as the Lord’s “chosen instrument” Ananias had to have been appalled. He’s going to be one of us? I need to baptize him, feed him and then watch as he gets a prime commission from God?
To Ananias’ credit he was obedient to the Lord and did just what he was asked. He embraced Saul as a brother and made sure that his fellow believers understood exactly what God had in mind with this man. And in doing so, Ananias set a tremendous example for us to follow.
Service is an act of obedience and it started with Ananias listening to what God had to say to him. That is a step that cannot be skipped. Furthermore, serving does not always line up with our desire to serve or any expectation we might have of serving nice, friendly and deserving people. In fact, our expectations should probably be taken out of the equation. God is all about carrying out his purposes and those purposes involve people. He just wants us willing to be used to serve and love people – even if their poster is up on our bulletin board.