You’ve probably seen this as a meme, or perhaps on a T-shirt: “Come to the Dark Side – We have cookies.” It’s hard to imagine Darth Vadar doing promotions to recruit new members, but, ya gotta admit that cookies are a good draw! How many times a week do you get some kind of offer to join or support an organization that includes a free giveaway: a hat, a coffee mug, a gym bag, or something like that? Marketing is key, these days. You gotta entice people to get into your group. Then, you use the numbers to make a pitch for influence, or to gain more members because after all, who doesn’t want to join the largest and most influential group around.
Jesus was no marketer. Oh sure, forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation is a nice benefit of “membership” in His “organization,” but as you read His life story, you don’t see Him hawking those benefits often. Instead of a gym bag, He offers a cross. Instead of influence, He offers servanthood. “Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:26-28)
Perhaps Jesus understands the idea of truth in marketing. He recognized that following Him would be difficult. He also wanted us to realize that we follow Him for a purpose. We are called to serve others. When we accept the call of God on our life, we commit to following Him in obedience no matter what the cost. We give up all claims on our own lives and surrender those rights to God. Well, maybe not so true in America. We keep looking for the cookies. All jesting aside, our example is Jesus who left the Throne of Heaven to walk on earth, teach people about the Kingdom of God, to wash His disciple’s feet, to heal the sick, to comfort the afflicted. Jesus helped the people who often demanded His time and His power when they should have been falling down at His feet in worship. And if God the Son did that, who are we to worry about the benefits of membership?
Christianity isn’t an organization where membership has its privileges. Following Christ means that we find ways to minister to people in need. It means that when we have completed that ministry that we don’t start patting ourselves on the back for a job well done of taking care of people who are less anything than us; we are to count ourselves as unworthy servants who have had the privilege of caring for God, since, what we do for the least of people, we do for God. When you commit to following Christ you don’t need to worry about your relationships, your rights, or your possessions; you commit those things to God at the same time. The first “perk” of following Christ is service and the second “perk” is sacrifice. That being said, when we commit our lives to Christ, we are forgiven our sins. That’s a load lifter in life. Imagine not having to pay the penalty for our sins because Jesus already did that. We have the promise of a home in Heaven because Jesus secures our eternity. And, when we really understand the gospel, we realize that we begin living and serving in the Kingdom of God immediately.
Oh Lord, remind me that You have called me to a life of service. When I want to relax, remind me of those whom I should minister to. When I want to live a life of ease, remind me that You had nowhere to lay Your head. And Lord, remind me that the greatest joy I could have is fellowship with You.