To be a faithful Christian, it is impossible to live life without service to others. Jesus calls someone who gives a cup of water to the least of these a disciple. Jesus says that only those who lose their lives will find it. Only those who love their neighbors truly love themselves (and the opposite is true as well. Our gifts are a reflection of ourselves. If the love we have received is bad, then love we give is as well.). We are all called to serve others, because it is the very thing that liberates our souls. I do think, however, that liberation is something that can be recognized and we ought to reveal what seems like a natural growth pattern. I believe there are four reasons why someone would serve another human being (and they’re all necessary):
We serve others because we serve ourselves.
We serve others because we serve God
We serve others because we see people in need.
We serve others because we see that we are in need.
It is without a doubt that God takes greater joy in the thief that made friendship with Jesus on the cross than the so-called “Holy” people that put him on there. When we look at developmental psychology or even an honest look at ourselves, we would realize that we are all these so called “Holy” people at one point in our lives (and probably many more as well). We can’t look at the Gospels without seeing the self-pleasing sacrifices that these people made. They prayed loud on street corners. They threw their money into the offering in order to be heard. This was the reward for these people. The satisfaction of the praise around them was their reward. We have all done this in our own lives, “I am such a good person because I did this for someone.” It’s impossible to even begin living without doing this. Psychology reveals to us that a child can’t even begin to process subjective thoughts until around the age of eleven. Even then, parents have to continue to give their kids right and wrong, black and white, either/or ways of thinking. This is how a child develops. We have to tell kids that they are good for giving gifts (even with their parents’ money) to their friends. We have to tell them that they did a nice thing by giving a homeless person a dollar (even with their parents’ money). We have to do this. We have to help them build an identity, a moral structure, a “self-esteem” (which we all must later find out is a lie, because we have to find our worth in God and God alone. It‘s the only stable and pure esteem). It’s not wrong to be a fundamentalist, a Pharisee, or someone who lives to serve himself, what is wrong is to stay there forever. It’s all part of the journey, and we must recognize this as part of the growing process.
1 Cor. 13:11- When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.
(More tomorrow on our need to serve others for God).