It was Serve Your World Day in the youth ministry I was leading a few years ago, and our youth group kids were scattered in about a dozen places on a Sunday serving in our communities. One of our groups made the 15 minute drive to the west side of Cleveland to help a single woman with some projects around her house. Due to addiction, she was the primary caregiver to her two grandchildren, and she lived on a very fixed income that didn’t allow much money for home improvements.
Of course, I had already scouted out the location and knew what needed to be done on her home, but for the students in our group it was obvious as we pulled up in front of her house that her home was by far the most neglected one on the street. That place needed some serious work!
Well, you would be surprised by the amount of work two dozen teenagers and youth workers could do when they work together for a cause. Four hours later we had a heaping trailer full of weeds, limbs and other yard debris and that grandmother had a newly landscaped home complete with mulch, flowers and bushes. Her front porch gleamed with new paint. All the windows were squeaky clean. New beds were assembled in her grandchildren’s room. The entire inside and outside of the house had been thoroughly cleaned, and she had a new kitchen floor.
As we prepared to load back up in the vans, everyone was dirty, exhausted, thirsty and hungry… and humbled — as that woman stood on her newly painted porch and wept in her thankfulness. A fifteen passenger van can be pretty noisy when it is loaded with teenagers, let me tell you… but not that day. As we drove back to the church those students were silent in their reflection of God’s blessings in their lives and the gratitude they felt… yes the gratitude… that God had allowed them to make a difference in someone’s life.
P.T. Barnum said, “The noblest art is that of making others happy.” Hmmm… a nice sentiment, and bringing joy to others is noble… but I would humbly suggest the noblest art is serving others in Jesus’ name. We are most like Jesus when we love others and serve in his name.
Have you seen the meerkat exhibit at the Cleveland Zoo? Those little buggers are hilarious. They sit up in the entrances to their tunnels and they survey their surroundings with the alertness that would make a guard standing at post proud. Their beady little eyes never stop searching and evaluating everything around them. And if danger approaches? They sound the alarm encouraging every meerkat in the community to run for cover.
So I’m pondering a challenge to you today. Maybe you could do a little meerkating… you know… survey your surroundings. Take note of the needs around you. Who could use a helping hand? How could you serve someone as the hands and feet of Jesus? Who needs a friend… an encouraging word… a kindness expressed… a blessing offered? You are most like Jesus when you love… and when you serve.