When I was in college I was sitting in chapel when the President of the University shared a story which I will never forget. There was an adult book store opening in a community and there were many Christians outside protesting. They were standing with their signs when a group of Christians entered with mop buckets, brooms and cleaning supplies. They came into the book store and said, “We are here to serve you, we want to clean for you.” The store owners were shocked. All the other Christians were protesting and now this group wants to work for free! Surprisingly, if I recall the story correctly, that store was shut down eventually, but not because of the protest. The owners became Christians because of service. Why can’t we serve with no strings attached? Too often we are not known for service. Or, maybe we are known for service when we are a group of Christians, but why not individually?
Tony Campolo tells a true story of a Jewish boy who suffered under the Nazis in World War II. He was living in a small Polish village when he and all the other Jews of the vicinity were rounded up by Nazi SS troops and sentenced to death. This boy joined his neighbors in digging a shallow ditch for their graves, then faced the firing squad with his parents.
Sprayed with machine-gun fire, bodies fell into the ditch and the Nazis covered the crumpled bodies with dirt. But none of the bullets hit the little boy. He was splattered with the blood of his parents and when they fell into the ditch, he pretended to be dead and fell on top of them. The grave was so shallow that the thin covering of dirt did not prevent air from getting through to him so that he could breathe. Several hours later, when darkness fell, he clawed his way out of the grave.
With blood and dirt caked to his little body, he made his way to the nearest house and begged for help. Recognizing him as one of the Jewish boys marked for death, he was turned away at house after house as people feared getting into trouble with the SS troops. Then something inside seemed to guide him to say something that was very strange for a Jewish boy to say. When the next family responded to his timid knocking in the still of the night, they heard him cry, “Don’t you recognize me? I am the Jesus you say you love.”
After a poignant pause, the woman who stood in the doorway swept him into her arms and kissed him. From that day on, the members of that family cared for that boy as though he was one of their own.
So, today I begin a sermon series titled, “The Church has left the building.” This is important because the church is not a building. The building is simply a facility. In fact, I know of a church which has been growing rapidly that has been portable for some twelve years. They have not owned a building. But we are all the church and as part of the church we represent Christ wherever we are. Today we will talk about serving or should we say, “Service with a smile.”
My theme and challenge:
Serve others with the heart and mind of Christ.
Let’s read two Scripture passages:
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
- Serving with the heart and mind of Christ begins in our thinking:
- In looking at the Philippians 2:3-4 passage I have note in one of my Bibles: 5 tn Grk “not according to selfish ambition.” There is no main verb in this verse; (“be of the same mind”) is implied here as well. Thus, although most translations supply the verb “do” at the beginning of v. 3 (e.g., “do nothing from selfish ambition”), the idea is even stronger than that: “Don’t even think any thoughts motivated by selfish ambition.”
- The Christian is to think about others. It begins in our thinking.
- Twenty-five years ago, when the New York Yankees were the dominant team in major league baseball, the manager would say to the rookies, “Boys, it’s an honor just to put on the New York pinstripes. So when you put them on, play like world champions. Play like Yankees. Play proud.” In similar fashion, the apostle Paul is attempting to inspire and to motivate the believers at Philippi by challenging them to walk worthy of the name by which they are called.
- I like that story. We are reflecting Jesus. We are Jesus to other people. Walk worthy of the name we represent.
- The following is a true story. Granted, it happened several years ago. But I wonder how often such scenarios unfold. Two pastors were at lunch together. The older pastor paid for their previous meal, so the younger pastor picked up the tab for this meal. The younger pastor paid cash for the meal, so his older friend asked if he had included a tip. He said he forgot the tip, so he put some cash on the table. As they were departing, the younger pastor said he forgot something, and returned to the restaurant. The other pastor saw him through the window. The younger man went back to the table, picked up the cash, and put it in his pocket.
- What a sad story. The other pastor went back later and apologized and also gave a tip. We as Christians are to reflect Christ.
- This starts with our thinking. My thinking must not be about me first. I must perish the “me first” thinking.
- In preaching this passage I know that many, if not most, if not all of our congregation are pretty good at serving others. However, we all need reminded all the time. I know that I do. I also need reminded that I first must change my thinking.
- The passage says, “‘In Humility’ value others above yourselves.” It starts with a mindset.
- As Paul writes about this he gives an example and that is Jesus. Jesus valued us and that is why He went to the cross. Later in verses 19-20 Paul gives the example of Timothy who also valued the welfare of others.
- So, I ask all of us and I ask myself as well:
- How is our mindset?
- When we serve others is it because we love them or we are just duty bound?
- Do we look down upon certain people as “below” us?
- What about racial issues? Do we love others of different races and do we want to serve them as much as our own race? I have recently become more aware of something called “White privilege.” It is true that when I am running down a certain street I do not have to worry about being stopped by the police purely because of the color of my skin. Or, I do not have to think about training my children to be prepared to be looked upon differently because of the color of their skin. I have read articles written by African American Pastors and they write about having to teach their children to dress differently because of the perceptions based off of their skin color. Please know, I am not criticizing the police for these things or making judgments, but I am saying that we all have certain perceptions based off of first impressions of others and we must try to limit and eliminate them as quickly as we can. The first step is recognizing them.
- Another application is really not action oriented, but word oriented. Do we try our best to communicate love through our words and non-verbals? Sarcasm can be humorous or it can cut like a knife.
- I want to say something about loving others. A major goal is real love shares Jesus with people. If we really love them we make sure we share Jesus with them.
- Serving with the heart and mind of Christ ends in action.
- A woman wanted a pet so she bought a parrot. She asked them at the pet store if it will talk and they said yea. She takes the parrot home and put it in its cage and it didn’t talk. After a while she goes back to the pet store and says, “it doesn’t talk.” They said, “Did you buy it a mirror. It must look at itself in the mirror and then it will talk.” She gets a mirror and the parrot still doesn’t talk. She goes back to the pet store and they said, “Did you buy it a ladder? Once it has a ladder it will talk.” She gets a ladder and it doesn’t talk. She goes back to the pet store. They said, “Did you get it a swing? When it swings it will talk.” She gets a swing and it still will not talk. After a few weeks it dies. She goes back to the pet store and says that it dies. They said “did it say anything before it died?” She said yea it said, “Don’t they have any food at that pet store.” 
- So, we want to make sure that people are receiving the basic needs. We want to make sure they have food.
- But these actions are not always material thinks. I know that some of us on some days do not have a penny to spare, but that is not to say we cannot love other people.
- Listen to this from Taylor Swift when she was eighteen years old:
- “I wrote that about the scariest feeling I’ve ever felt: going to school, walking down the hall, looking at all those faces, and not knowing who you’re gonna talk to that day. People always, How did you have the courage to walk up to record labels when you were 12 or 13? It’s because I could never feel the kind of rejection in the music industry that I felt in middle school.“
- We can love people by befriending them and I am going to talk about that later this month in relational evangelism.
- But, I believe there are little ways I think we can help people.
- Praying with and for people. We will never know how much of a difference this will make.
- Sharing the Gospel with someone. You know that is a free gift you can share with another person?
- Bibles: give one away.
- Help people with meals. There are many times that our congregation serves people by helping them with meals during hard times.
- Visiting shutins and those in the hospital. Our caring committee can use your help. This is an easy thing for young moms to do. Take your children with you and visit a senior saint. Or, visit some of your own family members.
- Volunteer at the Alliance of Churches office.
- Volunteer at the Alliance Community Food Pantry.
- Sew for someone, teach someone to sew. Teach someone to cook. Help out at the Alliance Pregnancy Center.
Daniel Meyer tells the story of an elderly woman who heard a sermon in which she felt God encouraging her to look for ways in which she could use her particular gifts and situation to minister to the needs of others. She thought about her gifts and realized that she’d been told by others that she had the gift of hospitality. She lived alone in a small apartment near a large university and had afternoons free. She pondered the needs around her and the people who tugged at her heartstrings. To her mind came the students nearby who were so far away from home. It was then that an idea both strange and simple suddenly arose. She got a stack of three-by- five cards and wrote on each one the following words: “Are you homesick? Come to my house at 4:00 p.m. for tea.” She included a phone number and address and then posted the cards all around campus.
After a slow start, homesick students began trickling into her house each week for tea. When she died ten years later, eighty honorary pallbearers attended her funeral. Each one of them had been a student who, once upon a time, found a hot cup of tea, a sense of home, and the gospel of Jesus in the hospitable heart of this faithful servant.
Do you know Christ?
God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)
Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)
Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)
Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)
Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)
Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)
 Anthony Campolo, Who Switched the Price Tags
Swindoll, Charles R. Read in Swindoll’s Ultimate Book of Illustrations & Quotes. Thomas Nelson. Nashville, TN 1998. Pages 6-7
 Grace Chapel in Minerva, Ohio
 Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Biblical Studies Press, 2006), Php 2:3.
 Bill Hybels, “The Certainty of Suffering,” Preaching Today, Tape No. 164.
 Chuck Swindoll
– 18-year-old country music star Taylor Swift speaking about the inspiration for the song “The Outside”, Entertainment Weekly, February 8, 2008, pg. 42