Next Steps: Week 4

Next Steps: Week 4 Day 1

Video Transcript

What we are talking about this week can be a lot of fun. This week, we will look at how to be used by God and how to fund the message of Jesus all over the world.

In Mike Yaconelli's book, Dangerous Wonder, he tells the story of a young teenage girl who learned the value of serving others. One morning, Mike was preaching about the unconditional love of God, and he was talking about his church loving outside the lines. After the service was over, a 16-year-old girl named Maria walked up to him and said, "That was a good sermon, Pastor, but I thought that if we are supposed to love outside the lines, then I know how we can do it. In three weeks, the County Fair is coming, and with the fair comes the 'carnies. I was thinking that instead of making fun of the carnies like so many people do every year, maybe we should have a dinner and welcome them to town."

The church agreed, and this 16-year-old girl organized the entire event. She called the manager of the fair for permission, called the carnival owner to see if they would want dinner. The carnival owner suggested a lunch just before the fair opened. She said, "We will barbecue hamburgers and cheeseburgers and have salads, desserts, and soft drinks. All you can eat. How many can we expect?" After some thought, the owner said to expect fifty.

On the day of the lunch, about twenty people from the church showed up to help serve. There was enough food for seventy. At 12:30, when the lunch was to begin, only four carnies showed up. By 1:30, however, they hadn't served 50 carnies, or 75 carnies, or even 150 carnies. They had served over 200 carnies. When it looked like they would run out of food, the young girl came running up to Mike and said, "We're running out of food. Mike said, "GET SOME!" And they did.

When the lunch was over, numerous carnies came up to the young girl and thanked her. One older lady who had been working carnivals for a long time said, "I have been doing carnivals for forty years, and this is the first time I've been welcomed to town." The all-you-can-eat carnie lunch has been going for seven years now, all because a teenage girl was naive enough to believe God could use her to love a group of carnies as much as He loved her.

Wouldn't it be great if being a servant came as naturally to us as taking our next breath? Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way, does it? We live in a society that has trained us to put our needs ahead of others' needs. We want to be number one. We would rather be served then be a servant.

  • That's why a teenager rolls their eyes and lets out a big sigh every time their mom asks them to clean the dishes or empty out the dishwasher.
  • That's why the husband rarely gets up off his chair to see if he can help his wife with dinner.

We want to be served. We want it our way right here and right now. This attitude shows up in the smallest of things, even here on our campuses.

Years ago, an exit survey was taken as people exited churches across the nation to find out what churchgoers thought the church's purpose was. 85% of the people who were surveyed as they walked out to their cars after worship said the reason the church exists is to meet my needs and the needs of my family. The only problem is that Jesus said the church exists to reach people for Christ. It's not about us.

This gravitational force towards selfishness says, "I want my parking place, I want my style of music sung, I want my aisle seat." There is something in you, and there is something in me that wants everything to be tailored to us.

I bet I know where you park when you come to church. You probably park in the closest spot to the door that you can find, unless you have a really expensive car and are concerned about getting door dinged.

Every weekend I watch people go up one row and down the next row looking for the closest parking spot that they can find. There just aren't very many people who take the farthest parking spot so that someone else can have a closer spot.

  • How weird would it be to be a part of a church where all the bad parking spots get filled up first?
  •  How weird would it be if we walked into the worship center and all the middle seats were taken?

As followers of Jesus, we are supposed to be different. We are supposed to put the needs of others ahead of our own. Now, if you have a hard time with this, understand the disciples had a hard time with this too. Over and over again, Jesus tried to teach them the value of being a servant. It was Jesus who said,

"Whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant." Mark 10:43. It was Jesus who said, "The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many." Matthew 20:28.

Probably the most dramatic teaching moment for Jesus on being a servant is found in John chapter 13. In just a few hours, Jesus is going to lay down His life and be crucified for our sins. The disciples have gathered with Jesus in the upper room to enjoy one last meal with Him. It was customary to have a servant at the door that would wash each person's feet as they entered the room. There weren't very many paved roads in the first century, and there was no sewage system. Much of that was thrown out onto the streets. By the end of the day, a person's feet would be filthy from the dirt and grime because everyone wore open-toed sandals. On top of all that, they didn't have tables and chairs to sit in and eat at like we do today.

The table they ate at would be about 3 inches off the ground, and people would lay down with their feet stuck in someone else's face. I don't know about you, but I don't want someone's feet in my face when I am eating. If they have to be in my face, it would be a bonus to me if they were at least clean feet.

All the disciples know of the custom. Each of them comes through the door and sees that there is no servant there to wash their feet. Certainly, one of them will humble themselves and serve the others, but none of them do. We find out why in Luke's gospel. He tells us in Luke 22:24 that they were fighting once again over which one of them was the greatest. They were arguing over who was the most important.

The disciple's problem was they were looking for someone else to serve because they thought they were too good, too important to humble themselves in this way.

A Pastor had a funeral on a Sunday Morning for a valuable member of his church. His name was "Someone Else." He said, "Someone's" passing created a vacancy that will be difficult to fill. "Else" has been with us for many years, and for every one of them, "Someone" did far more than the normal share of the work. Whenever a children's worker was needed to work with the kids, you would hear "Get Someone Else!"

When the setup and tear down crew was short-handed, everyone assumed that "Someone Else" would take care of it! The truth be known, too much was expected of "Someone Else." Now we wonder what we are going to do. "Someone Else" left a wonderful example to follow, but now who's going to do it? Who will do all the things "Someone Else" did? So, if you are asked to be a greeter, help with the teenagers, if you feel God's tug in your life to help set up the church or help tear it down, if you feel like God wants you to step out of your comfort zone and maybe be a small group leader, please remember that we can't depend on "Someone Else" anymore. He is dead. We really are depending on you.

Jesus depended on these twelve men, but they looked for someone else to do what needed to be done. They all fight over the throne, but no one fought over the towel.

The disciples had no reason to feel superior. They were nobodies. They were common fishermen who no one would have ever noticed or known about if it wasn't for Jesus. Aren't we the same? Apart from Jesus, we are just dust, but we brag about what we have done and what we have accomplished.

John 13:1 says, Having loved His own who were in the world, He now showed them the full extent of His love. The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. 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.

Here is what gets me. He knows the future of the feet that He is washing. In just a few hours, all twenty-four feet will run away from Him when they come to arrest Him in the garden of Gethsemane. In fact, one pair of feet will lead the soldiers of the high priest to where Jesus is.

Jesus knows all of that and still washed their feet. All of their feet. Even the feet of Judas.

Jesus looked at His disciples and said,

"Do you understand what I have done for you? You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them."

If we truly are a fully devoted follower of Jesus, then we will take up the towel and look for opportunities to serve one another at home, at work, at school, and even at church.

Everyone needs to pick up the towel and do what needs to be done. Let me ask you a question. Are you a servant? Notice I didn't ask if you do acts of service from time to time. What I want to know is, are you the kind of person who sees a need and meets the need? Are you the kind of person who doesn't look for someone else to do what needs to be done? What parking space did you park in last weekend?