Toward the end of last week, I was talking with a coworker about my plans for the weekend. My plans included helping paint the high school room at church. My coworker’s response was something about how he used to enjoy doing community service. It caught me off guard. Over my life, I have spent many hours of time doing what many people would consider “community service”. Yet somehow, I have never thought of it that way. As a believer, I think that what I do is so much more than community service.
Webster’s dictionary defines community service as “work that is done without pay to help people in a community.” For most people, their goal in “community service” is to serve the community by making it better.
For me as a Christian, though, there is a further goal. I want people to come to know, love, and serve my Lord. The service that I do is done to further that goal. If I am scorekeeping at an Awana event (as I will be doing this weekend), it is because I know that there will be a gospel presentation. I also know that there are parents and grandparents of the kids who are competing who might not ever set foot in a church, but who will come see their family member play games in a high school gym. Those people will hear a gospel presentation, and I get to be part of that.
This is not to say that Christians can not or should not do community service. However, for the Christian, the motivation still comes from Scripture and what Christ has done for us. Matthew 25: 37-40 says “Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”
Still, when a Christian does (or at least when I do) things that the world sees as “community service,” there is so more more to it. It is not just “community service.”