I began playing tennis as a child when they built two courts adjacent to my house in Chickasaw, where I spent the early childhood years of my life. But when my family moved to York when I was 10, I gave tennis up for a season because no one played tennis in York. It was only when I went to college that I picked the game back up and threw myself into it as a reprieve from practicing golf. As with any other game, strategy is an important component. It’s not just a matter of playing well; it’s also knowing how to play the game as you leverage your strengths and compensating for your weaknesses, all the while reversing that knowledge when it comes to your opponent.
One of the earliest strategic principles I came to discover was that whoever was the server had a distinct advantage over the person on the other side of the net, because the server was in control from the outset over how that particular point would be played out. Whether the server chose a power serve or a one that contained a bit of spin, it was his or her choice to begin the point that way and to seize the advantage in the process.
I’ve always had that image in mind when I have read Bible verses that speak to the priority of service for Jesus followers. Whereas the prevailing culture tells us that service is a sign of weakness and that anyone in his right mind would want to be served instead of doing service, those of us who desire to go through life with the “mind of Christ” know otherwise. We gain the advantage when we give of ourselves to bless others because in that action we become more conformed to the person of Christ, which is what discipleship is ultimately all about.
The members of Mountain Brook Baptist Church know this truth better than most. We have a heritage of service in our church, and our people are involved in acts of compassion on a daily basis that are reflecting Jesus’ presence in places and among individuals who are in dire need of what only Jesus can do. Such acts are what it looks like when we speak of “living with grace and generosity.”
And sometimes we find joy in performing those acts of service together, which is what will happen this Saturday. As you probably have seen, there will be a good group of the MBBC faithful who will be serving to support two of our missions partners, Grantswood Community School and Cornerstone School, as they look to beautify their facilities in ways that will help them better accomplish their work. And we will have another group that will remain at the church to do some low impact service that will bless other partners as well. It’s really not too late for you to be a part of this effort. So, if your plans have changed and you are available, feel free to show up at the church at 8 AM this Saturday as we go out to serve in Jesus’ name.
What pleases me most about efforts like this one is that it helps us to understand the balance between worship and service, which is a most important component to a healthy, maturing faith. Even more, I appreciate the way it enables our church to gain the advantage over our opponent, the Prince of Darkness himself, so that through our service Jesus is magnified and his Kingdom brought a step closer to the promised victory.
“The seventy-two returned (from their Jesus-appointed mission) with joy and said, ‘Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.’ He replied, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven’” (Lk. 10:17-18).