Can you serve in the Kingdom? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.
A favorite passage of Scripture I like to discuss with my Mrs. is the one in 1 Cor. 1 where God uses the shameful and despised things of this world for his glory. I have written much about getting apologetics in the local church, but I would not want people to have the idea that that must mean everyone has to know apologetics.
My friend J. Warner Wallace of Pleaseconvinceme.com has a great analogy for this. He says that few of us will be top chefs. Some of us are, but most are not. Still, all of us know the basics on how to fix a meal for ourselves. In the same way, not everyone will be a professional apologist, but all should know how to fix a basic defense for themselves.
Are there other ways to serve?
Before answering that, I would like to deal with the attitude that comes up with people saying “I can’t do anything for God’s Kingdom.” First off, this is an insult to God actually. You are telling the one who is omniscient that He did not know better when He made you. You are making a statement that He made a mistake. Your existence is not supposed to be part of this world.
If we believe Scripture, we must believe that a person is valuable for what they are and that God works everything together for good to those who love the Lord. That means yes, He can use your efforts. Note also that biblically, even if you refuse to serve God, your actions will serve His plans anyway. As C.S. Lewis said, you will either serve willingly or unwillingly, so you might as well serve willingly.
The problem for many of us is that the voice of the world seems to overpower the voice of God.
To reply to that, I’d like to let readers know a little bit about where I’m coming from.
I have not hid in this blog that I have Asperger’s, as does my wife. I also have scoliosis. The first one inhibits me socially. The second one inhibits me physically. Still, I do tend to blend in well enough. With the second one for instance, most people would not know the way I still run everywhere that I have that cold hard steel back there. (My treatment involved surgery to place a metal rod on my spine.)
Growing up, I was quite inhibited. I could say I was liked, but the people I counted as friends were few in number. I was mainly living in my own world. The thing I had going for me was my intelligence. Gym class was naturally the worst form of suffering that I could undergo. I was that kid in school that sat in the class room and went home and spent the day doing what I wanted and still managed to make A’s. In High School, I got the senior superlative of “Most Studious.”
Yet in high school, there were no dates. There were no girlfriends. I didn’t go to any prom at all in school. In fact, for the last couple of years, I found myself struggling with depression. The only thing I really knew was my Christian faith.
When it came time to go to college, because of disability, my parents were able to find help for that. I told the people from Vocational Rehabilitation that I was wanting to go to college to go into ministry. For them, this seemed ridiculous. My mind was better suited to something like an engineer, but this held no interest for me.
I was told that this was a mistake also because due to my social inhibition, I would not be able to handle public speaking.
I wish they had been there when in my senior year at Bible College, I gave a senior sermon to my entire student body and a large number of professors, around 1,000 people, and did it just fine. In fact, it was a message that even when I was on the campus a year later working on my Master’s, students still spoke to me about.
Part of the success was learning to not listen to those around me who were critical.
Now in Bible College, that is where I learned about apologetics and that is how I found my niche. It was through that that my depression lifted. I found a way that I could truly serve and put my mind to the most use. Before too long I was buying any book that I could and devouring it. I was listening to broadcasts online, with my personal favorite being Ravi Zacharias. (It was a great joy in my life when my Dad honoring a Christmas wish I made somehow arranged for me to get to meet Ravi in his office. It is a day I have never forgot.) My mother would want to panic every time I came home from the bookstore since I would have even more books. At my first apologetics conference, I spent $400 on books, to which the person running the bookstore would often thank me for paying his tuition every year.
Keep in mind in all of this time, there were of course critics. There were people who were saying I had no business being in this field. Still, I have had a tendency to refuse to listen. However, there was one critic that followed me to no end constantly going after my abilities and doing their best to disregard the contributions I believed I was making.
As you might guess, that critic was myself.
After all, we are always our own worst critics.
This was despite the fact of being a student working on a Master’s in Seminary and being respected by practically everyone that I met. My journey to success in this involved talking to people who were quite good at dealing with emotional doubt and seeing what I could do to get the problem under control.
Some matters helped, but there was one step that has helped the very most.
To quote the beginning of the Tobey Maguire movie, “This story begins with a girl.”
It was in 2009 that I was introduced to Allie. Now keep in mind as I said I was the shy and inhibited kid. I think I had had one date in all my time since high school. Allie and I had really hit things off. Allie was my first kiss and that of course, is an event I keep repeating to this day. (It is a point of ours to begin each morning giving each other a kiss before we get out of bed and letting a good night kiss end the day) My own roommate I understand told a mutual friend of ours (Who later was a groomsman) that we needed to book a wedding chapel soon. He was sure this was going that way as he started looking for a new place to live. It was a change neither one of us would have thought was coming earlier that year (Note to those going to college or seminary or just moving out. Always put in a marriage clause for a roommate).
As I said, I met her in 2009. Within three months, I had proposed. We were married on July 24th, 2010. As a friend of ours told us recently hearing our story on the phone, “You didn’t waste any time did you?” For us, it is incredible how many people look at us and see a perfect match. It is interesting since we are in many ways quite different, such as I’m the intellect among us and she’s the emotional one. Naturally, I do see ways we’re influencing each other. I’m more in touch with my emotional side and I notice her catching bad logic in what people are saying.
It was after our marriage in fact that I really started to launch Deeper Waters and push it forward. It was after that that I found my personal critic was learning to shut up. My thinking on this has been that I used to be vindicated by my apologetics as it were. Now, Allie provides my vindication. She is the one who affirms me constantly. That frees me more in other areas and pushes me to succeed more.
I tell this to her several times. I could not do what I do without her.
Okay. This has been long, but I thought it important to tell you about myself. Why? Because I think people like Allie and I are the ones that the world looks at and says that they’re no good. We don’t fit the “perfect” mold. We are not the way that everyone else is supposed to be, so we just need to mind our own business and let the world go on. We don’t have anything to contribute.
If people like us, people the world has often rejected, people with limitations on us, can serve, so can you. Now I realize there are people with greater limitations than us. Still, I know many of them are serving. I even think of the clip I’ve seen of a guy who came on Oprah with no legs and no arms and is serving by telling people about the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, he even said on the clip that he and his wife are expecting a baby.
My wife is not an apologist either. I’ll go on and state that clearly. If the Mormons or JWs come to the door, she’s going to defer to me. (Although, I have found she can really put Mormons in a bind) So what does she do?
First off, as I’ve said, she is an encouragement to me and that in itself can be a great service. I happen to have thoroughly enjoyed the TV series “Monk” and read the books that come out and I’ve told her that she is my Natalie. She is the one that best enables me to function in this world. Encouragement is a great gift to have. People like myself need others to come alongside us.
Chances are you have a pastor. Your pastor needs encouragement. Of course, if he’s going the wrong way, don’t encourage him in that. Allie is the first one after all to point out if she thinks I’m stepping out of line somewhere. Still, try to make sure to thank the people in your life who are spiritual influences on you. There are a number of times a good comment will come in here on Deeper Waters that I will share with Allie as something that just touches the heart.
Second, find what you do well that is good and praiseworthy, and do it for the kingdom. If you are the top chef as mentioned earlier, then you serve well. Perhaps you can cook for your church or a local homeless shelter. If you are in the world of entertainment, try to bring as much joy as possible to your audience. If you are in the role of medicine, seek to treat each patient as Christ would. If you are a scientist, seek to uncover the grandeur of God.
Whatever it is that you do, I urge you to not settle for second best. I urge you to be ambitious. We are told that whatever we do, we are to do for the glory of God. God does not deserve mediocre or average. Give him the best.
My wife’s gift is art. She’ll spend hours working on one picture, something I just don’t understand. As it stands, right now she is working on a Manga that will be a Christian Manga and really getting into it. What do I think? I think that’s excellent. If that’s the way she wants to serve, then let her throw herself into it and make sure she is serving to the best of her ability.
The problem with the church is that so many of us think that God could never use someone like us so we just don’t even bother to try. It would be a shame to get to the throne of God and realize how many opportunities we missed because we listened to our own voice and the voice of the world rather than the voice of Scripture. If God is incapable of using you, that not only speaks negatively about you. It also speaks negatively about God. It is saying He does not have the power, wisdom, or knowledge, to use you for His glory. You must be the accident.
It might be cliche, but it is true. You are the one who is holding yourself back. God put you here to serve Him in the Kingdom. It’s not about your identity in yourself. It’s about your identity in Him. You are a part of the body of Christ and as part of the body, you are not to say that in any way you cannot serve.
And in fact, if 1 Corinthians is true, which you should think it is, then if you are shamed and rejected, chances are that’s all the more reason you will be used. God did not choose the Romans, the Babylonians, the Egyptians, or any other great culture to serve Him, but chose a group of insignificant people called the Jews. Many of Christ’s disciples that He chose were not influential people. In fact, the people He spent the most time with were the rejects of society.
I highly encourage you to not let yourself be held back. If you wish to serve God, He will help you to serve Him well. Of course this is not done on your own. It is done by reliance on Him and His Holy Spirit working in you. In fact, the more you have to rely on Him, the more glory He gets from it, which is what should be sought.
I also anticipate that if this kind of idea catches on, that people really realize they have the ability to serve God and serve Him well in the Kingdom, we could see our world changed. We could see Christians become the people they were meant to be. We could see them boldly going forth trusting in God to use their offerings, no matter how meager they think them to be, to advance the Kingdom.
Let this truth be put in you today and not ever denied again by anyone, including yourself. YOU CAN SERVE.