Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Servant Song

Brother, sister, let me serve you,
let me be as Christ to you;
pray that I may have the grace to let you be my servant, too.

We are pilgrims on a journey;
we’re together on the road.
We are here to help each other walk the mile and bear the load.

I will hold the Christ light for you in the nighttime of your fear;
I will hold my hand out to you,
speak the peace you long to hear.

I will weep when you are weeping;
when you laugh, I’ll laugh with you.
I will share your joy and sorrow till we’ve seen this journey through.

When we sing to God in heaven,
we shall find such harmony,
born of all we’ve known together of Christ’s love and agony.

The above lyrics are from a hymn that we sang in our Traditional service this morning in church. I confess I have never heard it before. We have a minister visiting with us from Great Britain right now as part of a pulpit exchange and I assume this hymn is from a hymnal in the UK. I just don’t know. I only know that the lyrics, combined with the rest of the service today, blew me away.

The pastor shared stories and slides from a trip he and his wife took to Kenya some four years ago. One slide in particular on a slum in Keberia and the accompanying narrative left me speechless. I was immediately reminded of the abject poverty I had seen first-hand in my trips to Matamoros, Mexico. Yes, people in communities everywhere really do live and survive in horrific living conditions. Yet this time, instead of being overwhelmed with thoughts of how anything I may try to do to alleviate anyone’s life conditions may seem insignificant in the scheme of things, there was an experience of humanity that resonated through it all.

I remembered that it is God who weaves all of our lives and experiences and resources and desires and callings together. I was reminded that I don’t need to focus on the impact I am able to make on the world, but on one person. The Gospels are full of stories of Jesus having one-on-one encounters. He never dismissed a single soul with thoughts of, “Eh, a drop in the bucket of human suffering. What difference can I make?” Instead, he set about doing all the good he could within the limits of his human frame.

John Wesley said, “the world is my parish.” By that, he meant that he felt called to speak to peoples everywhere, but still, even though he often preached to the crowds, it was individuals, one at a time, who were touched, transformed, changed forever.

God goes about saving the world one soul at a time. My goodness, transform one life and you have absolutely no idea what the long-term affect might be; how many more lives this life might touch.

And if I were to spend my entire life serving Christ yet only managed to have a positive influence on one person, I believe – I have to believe – that God’s response would be the same as if I had been another Billy Graham: “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Look again at the lyrics in the song above. Notice the 2 stanzas I have printed in red. In applying these lyrics to myself, the words speak to me as acting as one person, touching the life of one person. No big numbers or statistics, just one individual participating in the suffering of another in order that no soul should feel abandoned, hopeless, alone.

That, friends, is the Gospel of Jesus Christ in its purest form. “As I have loved you, love one another.”

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