09-10-17 "BLESS: Serve With Love"

Stress is a funny thing.  It can give you headaches, it can raise your blood pressure, it can precipitate heart attacks and strokes, and it can even make you gain weight.  It can make you snap at the people who love you, it can make you jump to conclusions that you shouldn’t, and it can make you stare up at the ceiling when what you really need to do is sleep so that you’re at your best when you need to be.

What stress can’t do is help you make important decisions.  Study after study have shown that though stress might help you make short-term choices (like jumping out of the way of a falling boulder), it’s utterly detrimental to making intelligent life choices that have complicated repercussions.  That’s why good friends encourage you to pray and sleep on it, while salesmen pressure you to make a decision right away.

I say all of that because with this week’s anniversary of 9-11, with our country being torn in half by flooding and fires (or by politics), with people being frightened by threats of war, or by losing their jobs, or struggling with financial stressors, or dealing with physical and emotional illnesses, etc., I’ve been dealing with a lot of people with a lot of stress on their plates this week.  I’ve got my own plate full of them, so I totally understand their feelings.

But here’s the thing--back when you were feeling a bit less stressed a while ago, you may have heard the Bible saying something that you knew to be true: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).  The thing is, that’s no less true today than it was then--it’s just a little harder to actively do at the moment.  But that just means that it’s all the more important to work on actively doing it at the moment.  If you’re struggling with stress right now, then take a deep breath, and pray through each part of that chunk of truth.  And then let me know if that helps at all...

In our message on Sunday, we continued our series looking at the acronym, “BLESS,” this week looking at that second-to-last “S,” to Serve with Love.  On a purely pragmatic level, serving one another--not out of a sense of grudging obligation, but with a loving heart--not only ministers to one another’s needs, but also opens the door for us to be able to share our faith with people in meaningful ways.  But on a deeper level, when we serve specifically as an act of worship, we emulate Christ’s heart for others, we remind ourselves to get past ourselves and what we think we deserve, we are ultimately serving Christ Himself, we live out our freedom in Christ by being able to choose how and why we serve, and we demonstrate that our saving faith (itself a gift from God) is living and active within us.

There’s a lot going on when we consciously serve one another out of love for them and for God.  With so much stress and need and despair and anguish in the world, why not take a moment to look around you and ask God if there’s someone who might need a little help from you today.  I’d be surprised if there weren’t...