Last night marked the last installment of Downton Abbey's fourth season and the long wait until season five airs in about ten excruciating months. If you are unfamiliar with the show, which I believe few people are, it chronicles the lives of the residents of...Downton Abbey. Set in early 20th century England it gives the viewers a glimpse into what life may have been like for the nobility and the people that served them. There are stark differences between those who live "upstairs" and those who live "downstairs." Among those who are "in service" there is a range of attitudes towards the nobility. Some, like Mr. Carson, see their role as servants to the nobles as a profession to be proud of and they have deep affection for their masters. Others, like Miss Braithwaite, serve out of obligation and lack of better employment.
Jesus had some things to say about service to our Master, God the Father, as He was instructing His disciples in Luke 17. No matter how great the disciples' faith may be, and no matter what great acts are accomplished through that faith we are reminded that we are still servants of the Almighty God and this obedience is not an option, it is our duty.
Now, there are two dangerous attitudes that we must avoid as we serve the Lord. You see, just as God cares how we give of our resources He also cares how we serve and obey Him. There is no room for obeying God out of begrudging obligation. He doesn't want us to be unwilling servants who obey, "just because we have to." We have been bought, like a slave, with a price and that price was the precious blood of Jesus Christ. The Father didn't buy us because He needed servants to do His bidding, He bought us to be in a relationship with Him.
The second wrong attitude that we must steer clear of is the attitude that says, "I'll obey God and do these things so that when I ask Him for something He will be obligated to give it to me." Let me be very clear here, there is no way that we can put God in our debt or make it so that He "owes us one." We will be eternally in His debt for all that He has done for us and no amount of good works can pay that back.
So then, what is the appropriate attitude with which to serve the Lord? Ephesians 6:5-7 gives us a clue.
Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; not by way of eye-service, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. With good will render service, as to the Lord and not to men.
Our service and obedience to Christ is to be with a sincere heart and good will. Jesus told His disciples in John 14 that if we love Him we will obey His commandments. Our service is rendered to Him because we love Him and He loves us!
Our fallen, selfish hearts will not allow this kind of service to the degree that Christ demands it so something else must be understood to get where God wants us. We must realize that when we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior He takes us residence in us and gives us a new identity, His identity. When we are born-again we are no longer sinners who sometimes get it right, we are saints who sometimes stumble and fall!
So what attitude did Christ display that we must now have? John 12:28 tells us. Here Jesus is explaining to His disciples about His upcoming death and He is troubled by the prospect of what is about to happen but He says this;
Father, glorify your name.
That's it! That is the motivation and heart from which our service and obedience to God comes from, that He might be glorified. The Son of God, the second Person of the Trinity, wanted nothing more for His life than for it to bring glory and honor to the Father. Paul says it this way in 1 Corinthians 10:31;
Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all things to the glory of God.
Whether you eat or drink, whether you are at work or at home, whether you are shopping or fishing or whatever, do it to the glory of God! Now, Jesus also tells us what the best way is to glorify God in this life and it is the amazing statement in John 12:32;
And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.
Of course, this is a statement regarding His crucifixion which will allow Him to draw people to Himself without the stain of sin but there is more. The best way that we can glorify God and see people drawn to Him is not through the newest evangelism technique or the latest outreach strategy. Those things are all well and good but if we really want to see people come to Christ the best thing we can to is LIFT HIM UP! Make Him known to the world. Pull back the curtain and let people see God for who He is and allow Him to draw people to Himself! Paul understood this when He wrote to the church in Corinth,
And when I cam to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
Paul says, " I could have used fancy talk and great arguments but then you would be impressed by me. I put all of that aside so you could be impressed by God."
This is the heart of our service to the Lord; that He might be glorified in our lives. Jesus' motivation for all the miracles, acts of mercy and death on the cross was to see God gain the maximum glory. Why? Because Jesus knew something that we need to know, that God is the only One worthy of the glory and our purpose is to give it to Him.
The challenge for us today, tomorrow and on and on is to wake up and ask God, "Lord, how can I glorify you today?" How can you glorify Him and lift Him up with you obedience? How can you lift Him up through your service to Him and His Kingdom? Will you be a Mr. Carson?