Distinctive in serving others
Bible by the Beach has finished for another year. Many have been richly blessed by the teaching, the worship, fellowship, meeting up with old friends – the simple joy of being with God’s people and realising that we are not alone, that we are part of something much bigger than ourselves, than All Saints and Eastbourne: we are part of God’s ultimate purposes to conform us to Christ, to bring us to maturity in him so we are fit for the restoration of all things in the New Creation, presented to the Father as a pure and holy people through the work of Christ.
The theme throughout the weekend was the call to be distinctive as Christians and to practice Christ’s words from the sermon on the Mount in our lives lived together and before the world, that we might be a signpost to the world pointing to Jesus as Lord.
There was a lot to digest in terms of bible readings and seminars but my first reflection has not been in regard to these, but in regard to the distinctive way in which many were willing and happy to serve others during the weekend. It is no doubt strange for many in this world to think that we might spend the opportunity of a bank holiday weekend by volunteering to live in a kitchen and preparing food for others, or by looking after toddlers for long, sometimes no doubt, seemingly endless sessions, or standing by a door for hours as stewards. But that is what many from All Saints have done this weekend and I think its beautiful. It is distinctive.
What is more, serving others together because of Jesus, brings us ever closer to what it is to be a truly human being. It is exhausting and at times frustrating because of the brokenness of this world and our bodies, but it is what we were designed for – to regard others and their interests in a way in which we forget the interests of ourselves. Some might see it as noble, but the reality is that it is how things are meant to be, and will one day perfectly be, in the New Creation. It is the kind of existence we will enjoy for eternity – serving God and others forever. And what’s more, the joy expressed in those I encountered serving in these different ways is proof – we become more fully ourselves as God intended when we serve others together because of Jesus.
So next time we find ourselves serving others together because of Jesus – on the coffee rota, or running a house group, Cameo or Come Aside, helping with transport, or at Panda, or gardening. or … – remember that there is something in that experience which is distinctively heavenly, if we have eyes of faith to see.