Spirituality and its expression arise from the identity that one has, and the meaning which they bring to their everyday life. Spirituality; emotions; and physicality all play important roles in ones meaning of life and identity. These three foundational elements allow a person to function beyond animal characteristics. to experience and live in a community with other people; as well as recognise the importance and power of the Christian God in all situations.
To simply focus on one of these foundations would allow the others to crumble and ultimately destroy the full identity that a person has. In balance, the burdens of each can be distributed; and each can provide flow-on effects to each other to benefit the whole person.
In this understanding, Christian Service, is no longer simply a spiritual obligation, but something which whilst rooted in spirituality, flows into the physical and emotional. As James, the writer of the Epistle of James asks his fellow disciples of Jesus; how faith must be more than actions. Notably, if faith without action is dead; a heart of service, without physical service, is dead also.
“Show me how anyone can have faith without actions. I will show you my faith by my actions.”
Two notable figures within the public community which see to promote and share the understanding and foundation of Christian Service have shared their understanding of its importance as more than a noble aspiration. Becoming What God Intended ministries and Mother Teresa have both publicly expressed their views on how individuals are able to further their involvement in society through service.
Have you ever wondered why you have been left on earth? For the same reason God sent Jesus to earth: to serve, to suffer, and to ascend.
Each author focuses on these three areas; the BWGI article initially focuses on the physical; and follows with a spiritual response. Mother Teresa then emotionally engages with the reader to grow in Christian Service. These three views each carry their own focus on the physical, emotional and spiritual responses we must provide to fully embody Christian Service and worship God through it.
Prayer in action is love, and love in action is service. Try to give unconditionally whatever a person needs in the moment. The point is to do something, however small, and show you care through your actions by giving your time … We are all God’s children so it is important to share His gifts. Do not worry about why problems exist in the world – just respond to people’s needs … We feel what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean, but that ocean would be less without that drop.
BWGI addresses the physical reason why people are left on this earth/ For many, especially those who rely on this foundation, font that life can simply become about carrying out the tasks that we are required to do; eat, work, sleep, repeat. The author provides a simple, yet straight forward response, which for some is enough to move on from, but for others it may need more explanation, as the author provides this in the rest of their article.
Physically reacting to this statement, the author calls the reader to serve. To each person this service looks different, and will embody different things. For some it may be in leadership, in ensuring that those they are responsible for are able to fulfil their duty; for others it may be in partnering alongside someone in need, who isn’t able to achieve it on their own; for others still, it may be carrying out tasks that have been sitting dormant. In reacting to Christian Service physically, individuals are given physical meaning in life; and are able to function within society as useful people.
He (Jesus) passed on to His disciples the same privilege that He was given, in order to fulfil the grand purposes of God: “Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace to all of you Even as the Father has commissioned me, also I myself an commissioning you.’”
The article continues; addressing the spiritual foundation that is found in God. The author references the passage where Jesus goes beyond spiritual guidance into physical reactions to their spirituality. The Disciples had learnt and grown up in Jewish culture, where religious instruction was paramount, even to spirituality. God was placed in human constraints, and presented to society as simply a collection of boundaries and rules, which restricted people in their spiritual growth. Through Jesus’ manifestation in human form, a spiritual connection was made. This allows all people the opportunity to grow in their spiritual understanding and experience the Holy Spirit in all areas of their life. Christian Service, based in the reaction to the Holy Spirit urging each person to step beyond themselves, is a fundamental component in the spiritual foundation that a person has, and embodies as part of their identity. Created in His image, the father heart and desire to serve human kind in reflected in our own desire to see Him, and others too.
Emotionally, people need to both hold the ability to sacrifice, and commit through adversity. Mother Teresa shows the value that compassion and grace have in interacting with each other. Compassion finds place in Christian Service through the ability for one to step into a situation with grace and humility, not overstepping boundaries; but creating a safe place. In this safe place; Christian Service is able to impact and change lives; as well as share the message of Christ’s love and grace. Grace finds its place in providing restraint and a willingness for others to experience for themselves. Grace allows a person to embody Christian Service, whilst being aware of their own role when interacting with others. It promotes the sacrifice to see others achieve and yet knowing there was another way to do so. Ultimately love is the core emotional requirement to live out Christian Service. Love grants the opportunity for flaws and failing to be forgiven and for people to walk in unity. Love is able to sacrifice knowing when others need time off, and sacrifice in knowing when people misunderstand, or go a different way.
Christian Service is not only a simple expression of spirituality, but is one of a core foundations of Christian Spirituality. Christianity is able to impact the whole identity and meaning that one has in life, and in such, Christian Service is the physical, emotional, and spiritual response to honouring God, and the love and sacrifice He has shown us. We are able to take each and every opportunity to worship Him through praise and honour. We are able to make each decision to respond in love and bear witness to the service He has instilled in us.
Note: I originally wrote this feature article as an assessment piece for a Feature Writing and Documentary Journalism class. 13 Nov 2015
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.