Dec 122013 4 Responses

God Saved You For This

For a man, few things bring perspective like the birth of a child. While a woman has nine months of kicks, stretches, morning sickness, and a constant physical reminder that she is a mother, a father’s first true physical experience is seeing the child and holding him/her for the first time. It’s a moment which cannot be described. It has the potential to bring clarity unlike any other experience.

Because of this it is not surprising that Zechariah says a blessings at the birth of his son John. (For part 1 of Zechariah’s story, click here)

In this blessing, Zechariah prophecies what Jesus will do and what role John will play in his ministry. He also reveals a natural byproduct of the salvation which Jesus brings. He says:

“to grant to us, that we, being delievered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all of our days.” (Luke 1.73-75, ESV)

Zechariah says that one of the great purposes of God’s redemption story—from the beginnings of the Old Testament and now culminated in the life of Jesus—is to free us so that we may serve God. We are saved to serve.

We Don’t Understand Salvation

The depth and scope of the concept of salvation is woefully understood both inside the church and out.

Outside the church, many do not understand their need for salvation. Without the belief of a divine standard, humanity fails to recognize our sinfulness. Without seeing ourselves as sinners, we have no need for a Savior. Yet once we recognize the truth about God, it reveals our true condition and makes it easy to accept Jesus as our only hope.

Inside the church, we have a similar problem. We may understand what Jesus is saving us from, but we do not understand what he is saving us to. He saved us from sin, but he saves us to Himself. We are saved to serve.

“That we…might serve him.” God does not save us so that we might serve ourselves. He does not save us for us to live rich meaningful lives unto ourselves. He does not save us and become a puppet for us to manipulate to get every desire. God saves us so that we might do what we were created to do—serve him. We are saved to serve.

More Than Occasional Service

Whenever we think of service to God we are often tempted to think about temporary acts of worship on a Sunday morning or during the Christmas season. While these are important, that is not the meaning of the text.

Zechariah was a priest. Everything he did was for God. His great longing was to be able to serve God better. Sin prevented him from being everything he wanted to be. It prevented him from fully serving God. When Zechariah proclaims that we are saved to serve, he is not talking about weekly tasks; he is talking about a total life devoted to God. He wants to serve God in everything he does.

Zechariah says “All our days.” It’s not just about Sunday. It’s not just about occasions. For Zechariah it was “All our days” and we could add “All of our ways.” Every day and in every way, salvation frees us to serve God.

God created us to serve him. Humanity cannot find its true purpose or satisfaction until we are doing what we were created to do. Humanity was created to serve God.

Service to God may not mean a dramatic change in what we do, but it does mean a great change in why and how we do it.

Two Examples

Consider a mom with two small kids. Her life consists of nursing a baby, chasing a toddler, running a house, being a wife, and all other aspects of life. God delivers her from the grips of sin. What changes in her day-to-day life? Probably not much. Salvation doesn’t mean that her baby stops crying, her toddler slows down, her marriage becomes easy and life is a breeze. Very little of what she actually does changes. She has been freed to serve God which means why she does what she does greatly changes. No longer is she raising her kids to please herself or just to give them a good life; she is now charged with making Jesus known to them. No longer is her marriage all about her or her husband; her marriage is now a vehicle in which she may know Jesus and make him known. Very little changes regarding what she does, but everything changes of why she does it. And how she does a lot of things probably change as well as she sees the example of Jesus and understands how he says to live life.

Consider a high school student. He goes to school, plays in the band, enjoys hanging with friends and playing video games. God delivers him from the grips of sin. What changes in his daily life? Maybe a few things. Maybe some prayer and Bible study is added, but primarily his life is set. Salvation doesn’t mean he can skip school or is free from obeying his parents. What he does probably doesn’t change, but why and how he does it will change. As he’s considering college and majors, his desire is serve to God. He needs to look at Jesus and consider, in response to who Jesus is, what he should do to serve God. Maybe he goes into the medical field, maybe he has the mind of an engineer, maybe he is going into the military, whatever he chooses he desires to bring glory to God, make Jesus known, and make this world a better place. Having been delivered from the shackles of sin, this high school student is free to use all of his gifts and talents not on himself, but to bring glory to God. And how he does life greatly changes as he sees the example of Jesus and tries to emulate the life of Jesus within his own life.

Live Holistically

Zechariah saw that the purpose of Jesus was to save us so that we might serve. He saw life in a holistic sense in which everything we do has the potential to bring glory to God.

Families that, while never perfect, can be places in which we find safety in community and grow in the knowledge of God as we learn and practice what he has taught.

Occupations that are more than jobs but are actually callings in which we feel compelled to do what we do because we understand it plays a role in making this world better and bringing glory to God.

Hobbies that bring us in relationship with others and this world so that we can enjoy everything that God created.

Passions and ministries that do more than simply talk about what is wrong with the world, but take action to make it better.

You and I were created to serve God. Sin prevents us from doing so. Salvation restores the original order and gives us the opportunity to serve God again. God saves us to serve.

This contrasts greatly to our normal viewpoint of salvation.

Some think we are saved simply for heaven. In this viewpoint God has very little to do with our everyday lives, but if offers a better life after this one.

Some think we are saved so we can manipulate God. They believe after we become believers, God becomes  a genie giving us everything we want. If he doesn’t give us what we want, then something must be wrong with us.

Some think that salvation has something to do with us on Sundays but has no meaning to the rest of our lives. So there are some holy things where salvation changes us, but most of life is secular and has nothing to do with God.

All of these are unbiblical views of salvation. God has saved us to serve. Service is not limited to a few acts a week, but is about everything we do in life.

That’s the story of Jesus. All his life led to the Cross, but his life wasn’t only about the Cross. His birth brought glory to God causing others to worship. As a boy the Bible says that he grew in favor and stature and wisdom with God and man. His teaching brought glory to God. His healings and miracles brought glory to God. His friendships brought glory to God. Everything he did was service to God.

As it was for Jesus, so it is for us. At every stage in life, in every aspect of life, God desires to deliver us so that we may serve him.

4 Responses to God Saved You For This
  1. Kendall Orton Reply

    This is a beautiful post! Thank you for sharing these thoughts. Salvation is not a cheap experience, nor is it a one-time or occasional thing. It’s a journey. I think God planned it that way. “Live holistically”–everything God would have us do is for our benefit. We can’t over-serve God, nor can you “sacrifice” anything that won’t be good for you in the end. And, like you said, it makes us more better in the journey. The evidence is in the doing. This is mainly rambling, but I do appreciate what you’ve written. Thanks again.

  2. dennyneff Reply

    Today seems to be a day of playing catch-up with the readings I enjoy. And I am so very grateful for this one at this time in my life. Pastor, this essay, sermon, whatever a man might call it is for me the most blessed and powerful that I have read apart from the Bible itself. I have never in my life read anything that explained to me in such undeniable, plane as the sunshine on my face terms as this one did, as what I am here for. He or she who reads this are forever without excuse for serving God is the way that He desires that we serve him. Thanks my friend, for listening to and obeying our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in typing, for me to read, this awesome piece of literature. God Bless You.

  3. Rebekah Rutt Reply

    Never have i seen salvation in this light! Thank you! I am going to have to read this several more times.

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