Is it possible to serve God? Does God, the most powerful being in existence, who can with one word or one thought create whatever He wants, need service? Is it even possible for a perfect God to have needs? I was struck this week by Acts 17:24-25: “The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things.”
No, God has no need for anything, but as the kind, perfect ruler and creator of all, He deserves all our service. It is, of course, the aim of Christians to serve Him with our whole heart. In Luke 1, the Lord is praised in part because He rescues us from our enemies that we “might serve Him without fear” (Luke 1:74). Paul in Colossians 3:24 even talks about how we ultimately serve the Lord Christ when we serve others. Anything we do comes back to Him in the end.
The crazy part is that even though we should be serving God, the One who needs no service, this God chooses to serve us. I know I’ve read many times Jesus’ words to His disciples in Mark 10:45: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” It’s easy for me somehow to think of Jesus this way, maybe because I’ve seen Him in Scripture washing feet, serving bread, and healing sick people. Even though Jesus IS God, the exact representation, when I think of Father God, I think of the stories like the one I read today of the Israelites in the wilderness whining about being sick of manna (you know, the miraculous bread from heaven that the people get to gather for free every morning) and wanting meat after God has saved them from harsh slavery and death from starvation in the desert. God says He will give them so much meat it’ll start coming out of their noses. My kids thought that was pretty funny. Then when God does give them quails in every direction as far as their eyes could see, He strikes them with a plague. The point: God hates whining. He wants us to be thankful. But this same God who could choose to strike us with a deadly disease anytime we’re not thankful to Him (which could be several times a day for me if you count the times I’m frustrated with my kids–those blessings He gave me) is the same God who stoops down to serve us.
Lately, this has hit home with me more than ever. I have not been as faithful in the past month or so with my devotions and prayer time as I’d like to be. I know how I fall short. But He has been showering me with blessings nonetheless. I don’t deserve it. In fact, I never deserve it, even when I’m following all the rules in a very careful way (I do better when I’m not around little trials that test me–read: kids). Good gifts from God are not a payment for the good things I’ve done. It’s just grace. No matter how good I am, I can’t compare to the perfection and holiness of God. It’s His grace that covers me and blesses me despite my flaws. He looks at me and sees Jesus’ perfection and gives me gifts that leave me open-mouthed and thankful.
What kind of a love is that? The one to whom all should bow to the ground, stooping to the ground to serve us, these little ants of creatures who are incredibly significant to Him. But God is love, and what else would true love do? True love gives and serves, even to those who are undeserving. What else can we do but attempt to serve Him back, to mimic Him by loving those around us even when they fall short in their relationships with us? For aren’t we all undeserving?