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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN

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SERVICE OR SERVE US

Joyce Potter writes: "One of the questions asked on our company's employee application form is: 'Did you receive any training in the U. S. Armed Forces that is relevant to the position applied for?" An applicant answered, 'To wake up early and go to work' " (12/2000 Reader's Digest, p 148). It is no accident that we often refer to those in the military as being in the "service." The first lesson learned in boot camp is that you are not there to be pleased or petted or served. It doesn't matter if you like the food, the bed, the drill sergeant, or the time you have to get up. You are there to learn to submit to authority, to obey orders, to work with others as a unit/team, and to learn that it is not all about you. You are there, in a word, to learn how to serve. At this moment, around the globe, 100's of 1000's of men and women in our military services are waking up early and going to work. They are sacrificing things which range from comfort to convenience to close proximity to family and loved ones. And yes, in Iraq some are presently making the supreme sacrifice made by so many in the past: in the service of America and freedom, some are giving their very lives. As they serve us, these brave men and women deserve our prayers and support.

Many modem day Christians ought to take a lesson from those in the armed services: wake up and go to work. The apostles James and John learned this lesson from Jesus Himself long ago in Mark 10:35ff. They came to Jesus with a bold and brash request: "We want you to do for us whatever we ask," and what they asked for basically was to wear a crown by sitting at Jesus' right and left hand in His kingdom. Study the context carefully and you learn James and John misunderstood the true nature of the Messiah, His kingdom, and His mission. Jesus didn't come to climb and claw His was to the top and wear a crown. He came, as He makes clear in verses 32-34, to embrace a cross. Furthermore, He states unequivocally in verses 43-44 that in His kingdom, service will not be spelled "s-e-r-v-e-u-s." Rather, "whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever of you desires to be f irst shall be slave of all." It's not just "ministers" who ought to minister. Every member ought to be a minister. Jesus is not looking for critics who demand of preachers and elders, "Do for us whatever we ask." Nor is He looking for spectators who view church as a place to be entertained or worship as a place where leaders ought to please me. Many positions of greatness are open in the church. To fill them requires us to do only one thing: take up the cross and learn how to serve. Jesus just won't let us spell service "s-e-r-v-e-u-s."

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ