serving others

Serving Others In A Self-Serve World

In the movie, Back To The Future, teenager Marty McFly (played by Michael J. Fox) travels from his 1980s life to his parents’ 1950s world. As he tries to get his bearings, Marty is astounded to see a car pull into a gas station and a crew of uniformed men rush out to service the car. They efficiently pump gas, clean the windshields and check the tires’ air pressure. All Marty can do is gape; he’s never seen this type of service.

For better or worse, we live in a self-serve world. We scan and bag our own groceries, pump our own gas, and spend Saturday mornings wandering through immense hardware stores looking for someone (anyone!) whom might know where we can get a switch plate to match our old one. Like Marty McFly, when we do get great service, we are caught off-guard.

While we may have to live this way in some parts of our lives, as Christians, our lives should be oriented around serving others. In Matthew 25, Jesus tells his disciples that when the Son of Man comes into his glory, there will be a strict judgement, with the righteous gaining eternal life, and the rest to eternal punishment. The criteria? Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the imprisoned and ill. And it’s not just for those we know; Christ clearly says we are to reach out to the stranger.

Christ holds us to a very high standard. We need to serve those we know, those we don’t know, those we like, those we don’t. We are to treat everyone we see as if that person is Jesus Christ Himself. And we should not be in it just for the reward, or acting out of fear of punishment. Ultimately, we must act out of our love for Christ.

St. Augustine said, “What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.

It doesn’t take much more than 15 minutes of the evening news to realize that our world is severely lacking love. It is no coincidence that love and service are so closely bound in the Gospel. Love that does nothing is not love; it is only lip-service. Service done without love is a mere obligation, a tedious task to be completed. Service born of and united with love is something far greater: it is the Kingdom of God.