“And we will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”
A number of years ago, in conversations with others, in my reading, in message preparation, and in my own personal Bible Study the Lord has impressed on my heart the call to servant hood. In Mark 9 as we trace through the Gospel account we are confronted by the means that the Lord Jesus Christ used to break up the hard heartedness of His disciples. As I write this I am reminded of the statement of john Newton regarding his aim in preaching. “My grand point in preaching is to break the hard heart, and to heal the broken one.” It seems to me that this was also the intentional approach that the Lord Jesus Christ was following. Mark presents Jesus as the suffering servant who has come to redeem His people. His method of transforming His Disciples gives us a wonderful example of how He is dealing with us, as well a pattern for us to follow in serving others.
The Disciples eventually got the message. Acts 6 tells us that as they wrestled with a crisis in the Church in Jerusalem that they went back to the Godly priority that they had been called to. They recognised that they had been appointed to serve the people of God through a commitment to the Word of God and to prayer. This does not mean that they were not engaged in other tasks. What it tells us is that they would not allow those other urgent things to move them away from the essential service that they had been called to. We should be deeply thankful that this is the case because if they had given in to the temptation to neglect the Word of God and prayer we would not have the New Testament today. In numerous places the Scriptures tell us that these Apostles we called to be taught of the Holy Spirit what the word was that the Lord was speaking to His people. They listened, and they taught, and eventually they wrote down that New Testament word for the benefit of all of us. We must praise God for their faithfulness in their calling.
There is a story told about some Burmese Christian leaders who were in conversation with some missionaries and when the topic of discussion turned to the pioneer missionary Adoniram Judson, to a person they emphasized with tears that he was the one man that they all owed their salvation to because it was Judson who translated the Scriptures into their language. What a wonderful legacy to leave behind. In reality we can all say that from a human point of view we owe our salvation to the faithful service of those Apostles who were the human authors that God used to write the New Testament.
What these thoughts teach us is that we are called to serve God by serving His people. As servants of God we find that there are many things that we could be doing, some of which will seem to be incredibly urgent. We must resist the call to be ruled by the urgent things that are thrust upon us so that we will be able to engage in the essential tasks of service which we have been called to. A true servant is one who listens for his master’s voice. That is the one who must be obeyed. When our Lord calls us we obey by serving in that place and means that He appoints. To serve in this way requires brokenness before the Lord because we will find ourselves following in a way that will always be hidden. The Lord always gets the credit. We are merely His faithful servants.