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The Serving Community

When the second world war ended in 1945, I was fourteen years old, and 4 years later was conscripted into the army on National Service. I was sent to the Far East, and spent 4 weeks on a troopship bound for Singapore. This was just 4 years after the Japanese had unconditionally surrendered, and by that time there was very little evidence they had ever been there. Some of those who suffered as prisoners of the Japanese find it difficult if not impossible to forgive, because of the barbaric treatment they received.. Now there were other problems to contend with. The Chinese Communists were causing havoc and mayhem in the Malayan jungle. Infantry units were being trained in Singapore before being sent up country into the jungle to combat the terrorists.

As Christians, our Lord Jesus tells us to love our enemies, and do good to those who hate us. Only God can bring about true healing which is impossible, humanly speaking. Years ago we had in this church, a prayer support group for the Overseas Missionary Fellowship working in Japan, where through OMF, local groups of Japanese people were brought to faith in Jesus Christ. Japanese Samurai were a warrior caste dedicated to a lifetime of loyalty and service to their feudal overlord. The name Samurai means ‘one who serves’. A dispute arose between the disciples of Jesus about which of them was the greatest. Jesus said to them, “Who is greater, the one who sits at the table, or the one who serves? It is the one who sits at the table. But I am among you as one who serves.” The sorts of service rendered by the Samurai and our Lord Jesus are worlds apart, but the expression is a noble one. A servant in the Scriptures is a person at the disposal of another; a worker who belongs to a master. Loyalty and service are attitudes and actions which reflect the actual or perceived will of the master being served, whether benign or evil. Actions will therefore be largely dictated by the nature of the master, his philosophy and ambitions. In Nazi Germany, for example, the Fuhrer dictator, Adolf Hitler, and in Japan at war, the Emperor god, Hirohito. Loyalty and service to these masters led to the horrors of the Holocaust, and the Burma railway slave camps.

The Master to whom we owe loyalty and service, is none other than the God of all creation, and whose name is Love, and who is faithful and just in all His ways. We are servants at the disposal of our heavenly Father, and constantly seek His will through prayer, and the study of His word. He requires the willing offering of ourselves in His service. We do not receive wages, but gifts, constantly flowing from His loving hand, resulting in the response of thanksgiving and praise, and being ever more willing to carry out His will. In spite of his many failings, King David truly loved God, and tried to serve him.

He recognised that all that he was and possessed was God given, and he was full of thanks and praise, as we know from the Psalms. He gave God the glory for everything. He wanted to build a temple and provided resources for it, but it would be constructed by his son, Solomon. As King, he had given a lead and example, and now posed the question - “Who is willing to consecrate himself to the Lord?” The leaders, officers, commanders, officials, gave willingly. David rejoiced and praised the Lord in the words we use in church when the offerings are presented, “Yours Lord, is the greatness, the power and the glory, the splendour and the majesty; for everything in heaven and on earth is yours. All things come from you, and of your own do we give you.”

In all our dealings with Him and each other, we must adopt the attitude of servants, not demanding or seeking praise, no room for pride, or even expecting a reward. Our Lord spelled out the master/servant relationship - “Would the master thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, “We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.” Let us remember Samurai, ‘one who serves’, and our Lord Jesus who said, “I am among you as one who serves”, and give to Him our full allegiance, whose service is ‘perfect freedom’.

Derek Burton


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