Thomas Devenish plenary for the 2021 young writer conference last weekend.
Our Lord and Saviour is glorious, seated on the throne of heaven, surrounded by multitudes of angels and the constant sound of reverent worship.
But the symbol for our faith is that of a cross, a simple form that towers over our lives with a grace and power that belies its raw barbarity. The cross once filled the citizens of the Roman Empire with disgust, but we embrace it with joy.
We see in it our salvation, and the ultimate realisations of Jesus’ words “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Mark chapter 10 verses 45 NIV)
As a Christ-follower, seeking to live in the way our Lord did, it is hard to move past the bedrock of servanthood.
In the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians he recites a hymn of the early church about how Jesus Christ, King of kings and Lord of lords, willingly took on the nature of a servant, coming to earth as a man ready to be crucified.
The word translated servant is the Greek word doulos, which can be directly translated as slave or bondservant. The Strong’s lexicon definition of the word doulos includes the phrase ‘Devoted to another to the disregard of one's own interests.’
That was how Jesus lived, and how we are also called to be.
Jesus’ famous disciple, Peter, echoed this sentiment of servanthood in his letter to the churches, saying “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter chapter 4 verses 10 NIV)
We can readily see from this statement three things; First, that we have all received gifts from God. Second, that God’s gifts come in various ways, shapes and sizes. Third, that whatever form God’s gifting takes in our lives, we should harness it for serving others. In so doing we are imitating our Lord and Saviour’s example to the glory of God.
We live in a world with many needs. Political, economic, environmental, social… everywhere you turn there is a vortex of need. The weight of it can be crushing, overwhelming to the point of horrified inaction. Where do you start with filling in a bottomless pit?
But this is where I want to encourage you to take your eye off the storm and place it firmly on our Master. Jesus served others. And we can do the same. A little bit here, a little bit there. Think about the little things you can do and start the doing – who knows where it will lead.
I made a conscious decision at the end of last year that I was going to make more time in my life for serving others. I was tired of all the wanting to help and never really getting around to it – time to start doing! The change I made was rather drastic; I closed down my freelancing gig for a time and enrolled to do some study in social services.
The study didn’t really work out, but an opportunity came up to lead a weekly Art Therapy class at a local Drug and Alcohol Rehab centre. I had the time available because I had made the space, and so I jumped in. I’ve always enjoyed art, with a strong background in graphic design, but the lack of formal art training made me a little nervous as to how things would pan out.
But now, six months in, I can look back with so much thankfulness for that decision to start doing. I have made relationships with guys I never would have thought possible, and found immense satisfaction in being a part of some amazing journeys. I have discovered depths of empathy, love and brotherhood in people with such tough backstories it can make you weep.
I have other projects in mind, things I want to start doing to serve others even more. Some are big, some are small, and some may never get off the ground. But the more I look to Jesus, the more I feel spurred to action. Musings can only go so far.
How can you use your gifts to serve God, by serving others? Every sphere of life is in need of the salt of Christian witness. No matter how quirky or zany your interests may be, know that there is a place for you to shine.
It may look like a traditional type of serving or maybe it won’t. Maybe it is helping out at a soup kitchen or running a fundraiser for a local charity. Maybe it is writing cards and letters to the elderly people in your life, or cooking muffins and leaving it on their doorstep.
Maybe it involves computer games, or succulents, or rock music. I don’t know, I’m not you. But I do know there is a way that you can serve.
And I look forward to reading all about it.
Thomas Devenish lives in Hobart, Tasmania with his wife and two daughters. He works as a motion designer and enjoys the diverse experiences life has to offer, from chasing tennis balls to curling up with a good book on a rainy day. Thomas Devenish’s previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/thomas-devenish.html