Two mothers were bragging on their children. The first one crowed, “My Mary is so smart. She was walking at eight months old.” The second mom challenged,”You call that smart? When my Cindy was that old, she let us carry her.” Do you know somebody who is like Cindy, only they are a lot older? You know what I mean. Some people are content to let others carry them, aren’t they? Not physically, of course. But carry them, nonetheless. Carry them in the sense they want others to do for them what they are well able to do. You see them everywhere – citizens, workers, parents, students – and sadly, say it ain’t so, in the church. Now, to be sure, there are times when all of us must be carried, or at lest helped along, by others. The beautiful song, “Lean On Me,” originally released by Bill Withers in April, 1972 says, “Sometimes in our lives, we all have pain, we all have sorrow,” and continues, “Lean on me when you’re not strong, And I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on. For it won’t be long, Till I’m gonna need somebody to lean on.” That song reflects the Christian responsibility laid out by the apostle Paul: “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). Human needs of various kinds surround us on a daily basis. In our homes, neighborhoods, schools, offices, factories – all around us people carry burdens and need, not necessarily a hand-out, but a hand-up. If we are to be like Jesus and fulfill His law of loving our neighbor as ourselves, we must be sensitive to the burdens others bear – whether those burdens are physical, spiritual, material, or mental and emotional. Having said all that, consider what Paul went on to say a little later in Galatians 6:5 – “For each one shall bear his own burden.” In a healthy body, “every part does it share” (Eph.4:16b), and so also in the church, the body of Christ. If I break an arm, the rest of my body will carry it. But a healthy arm doesn’t need or want a sling so it can be carried. God calls us, as the need arises, to “carry” each other. We do that as “through love [we] serve one another” (Galatians 5:13).
A pressing and perennial problem in the church is people who claim to be members but do little serving. They are content to let others do most if not all of the giving, singing, praying, attending, teaching, soul- winning, etc. Like James and John in Mark 10:35, they come to Jesus and into the church saying, “…we want you to do for us.” Jesus addressed their request and told them, in so many words, they didn’t know what they were asking (vs 38a). After explaining we become great not by being served but by serving, the Lord reminded them, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and give His life a ransom for many” (vs 45). The apostle Paul declared a clear understanding of his role and responsibility after his conversion to Christ in 1 Timothy 1:12 – “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry.” I know as well as you that Paul had a unique ministry for Jesus. But allow me to suggest that when we come into Christ, the Lord is in a sense “putting us into the ministry.” Christians are “saved to serve.” In his inaugural speech on January 20, 1961, President John F. Kenney famously challenged every American citizen: “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what can you do for your country.” Our nation’s health, or lack of it, is affected and reflected as citizens who are able carry their own load and do their civic duty. Can it be any different in the church? If you are in Christ you should be serving. Let me ask every child of God who reads these words – are you in the ministry? Just asking.