Born to Serve: Rethinking Mission during Christmas

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I felt guilty when I began thinking about how I would write this article. Here I am a few days after Christmas: the gifts are unwrapped, the laughter has been shared, and my family members lay about in mashed potato comas. I may be resting, but what did I do this Christmas to live missionally?

During this season, it’s easy to feel guilt-tripped when scrolling past another Facebook rant about consumerism or when hearing the bell of a Salvation Army volunteer. I feel like I need to be giving more, or trying harder, or just being better – I need to look more like Jesus.

But the Advent season serves as a reminder that living missionally is not about our going or our sending. It’s about Christ: Christ’s coming to this earth as a baby, and his death that empowers us to live more fully and more selflessly. Instead of focusing on my lack of ability, I should be focusing on the incarnation of the Living God.

This year, I learned that God is with us in our waiting. In our fear, in our darkness, in our suffering, and in our tears, He is ever present. The Israelites waited thousands of years for their prophesied Saviour, but we don’t have to wait – Jesus is alive and with us! And he’s calling us to serve.

Jesus sets the precedent. In becoming a human like us, He calls us to look like Him and to serve as He did: “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you” (John 20:21, ESV). In that way, missional living is meant to be a reflection of Jesus’ earthly ministry. He calls us to step out into the world’s dark places the same way that he stepped into a human form. He calls us to die to our own desires the same way that He died on the cross for the will of his Father. The Gospel of Mark says that “even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45, ESV). So we are called to serve: because Jesus did it before us. We don’t have to worry about being served by anyone, because the God of the universe already gave himself in the ultimate missionary act.

If I want to live missionally, I want to start by picturing how Jesus did it: by making himself vulnerable in the form of a human baby, the first literally becoming last (Matthew 20:16, ESV) and by presenting his prayers to His Father, but knowing that God’s will was more important than what he wanted: “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42 ESV).

Instead of letting the Christmas season make us feel guilty for not doing more, let us be moved to action by looking at the Advent story and remembering what Christ has already done.

By: Julia Bartel