This article originally appeared in the November 2015 edition of the Church of God Evangel, a magazine that brings inspiring, intentional, and empowering stories and articles to its readers. Click here to view the publication online or download a PDF.
It was a Thursday at 4:45 pm when our whole house was rushing around to get out the door. My husband, Jeremy, was taking our 3 oldest children to watch some of the middle schoolers in our youth group play their first volleyball game of the season. Meanwhile, I nursed our 3-week-old baby in hopes he would sleep in the Moby wrap while I attended a parent meeting for our new kindergartener. As Jeremy supervised everyone buckling into the van, he noticed a wet spot in our garage.
Stop everything – we had a leak.
We have pretty much no plumbing skills whatsoever, and even small leak looks enormous when it has been dripping for who-knows-how-long. We left messages for a few plumbers, but we feared how we could pay for their services with all the recent expenses of a new baby. Jeremy called our friend Bob, a retired pastor who now works as an insurance adjustor and handyman.
Within minutes, Bob was on the scene with his tools in hand. Not only did he stop the leak, but he returned the next morning with the parts to fix the piping, a fan to dry out the soggy cabinets, a level to entertain my curious little boys while they watched him work, and a promise to help with whatever further damage might come as a result. And he didn’t charge me a penny.
For Bob Shook, his service to my family is not just to my family, it is unto the Lord. He practices what he preached for many years: worship is not about a song or performance; it’s surrendering everything that we do to honor the Lord and to love His people.
In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus tells a familiar parable about sheep and goats – the “sheep” that obeyed God’s commandments and the “goats” that missed the mark. I heard this story scores of times growing up in the church, and it was always used to motivate Christians to service – to “be Jesus” to someone in need. However, when we look at the text, quite the contrary is true:
Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’”
When we serve others, we are not “being Jesus” to them. Rather, those we serve are identified with Jesus, so our service to them is direct service to Him. That’s worship.
Maybe plumbing isn’t your thing either, but that doesn’t mean you can’t worship the Lord through serving your neighbor. Next time you mow your grass, take an extra 20 minutes and mow for the widow next door too. Make a meal for someone who is grieving. Host a baby shower for a single mom who is scared she can’t make it on her own. Bring your kids to a nursing home to read to the residents. Clean house for a new mom who hasn’t slept since the baby was born. Pay for the person beside you at Chick-fil-A whose credit card won’t run. Be honest in your business dealings, and seek to serve before you make a buck.
There are so many ways to worship because there are so many ways we live. Rather than putting worship in the box of a church setting, look at your life and what you’re already doing. Ask God to show you how to use those daily activities to honor him. And when you ask, you will receive.