Vincent Rodrigue has attended the Mennonite Brethren Church of Saint-Eustache since childhood. He spent several summers at MCC Quebec camps. As an adult, he participated in Summerbridge and summer service programs. He is one of the young Anabaptists of his church who drafted a manifesto for peace as part of the Quebec student strike, which was accompanied by demonstrations in several cities in Quebec in 2012. Vincent was recently appointed as the youth group leader of his church. His testimony is the sum of his Christian commitment in the community of faith and life.
Photo courtesy of Vincent Rodrigue. As Christians, we are not called to be consumers or profiteers. We have been chosen to be servants in Jesus Christ, called to serve others. It is one thing to read and understand this, but to live it and put it into practice is another matter altogether.
Jesus did not come to this earth as a king or a noble, as a rich man or a renowned CEO, as a hockey star, or as a physically impressive man, or as the most popular boy at school. He came to us as a human being, fragile, poor and unknown. This is exactly how many of today’s youth feel: poor, weak and… unfortunately, unknown to many people. Nevertheless, this story, as sad as it may seem, changed the day Jesus began his ministry, rendering service.
Jesus, with his revolutionary command for masters to serve their slaves and for all people to love each other, provided us with a perfect example of service. Jesus served with humility, respect and joy. In a word, he served with love, the weak as well as the strong, the just and the unjust, the good and the wicked. He never let himself be overcome by pride, prejudice or fear. Filled with the Holy Spirit, he simply served.
Photo courtesy of Vincent Rodrigue.
But what does it mean to serve? To me, serving means giving my time, my energy, and my love to my fellow man. Following the example set by Jesus Christ, service enables us to share a tiny fraction of God’s love with our families and friends, as well as with our neighbours, and even with strangers. Because to serve is to love, and to love is the nature of God. We serve because God lives in us and He is love. Jesus calls us to serve by showing us the right way and by doing only what is fair and good. The Apostle Paul urges us to always act with humility, gentleness, patience and love. Let us not forget that there is more joy in giving than in receiving, and that this joy comes from our communion with God through service.
Today, wealth makes people forget that they are weak. Access to a roof, to clothing, to food and to water are things that are unimaginably valuable to some, but that for others have lost all value and may be summed up in one word: consumption. It is encouraging to note that even today, there are Christians who serve Jesus Christ wholeheartedly, undeterred by time, obstacles, or misfortune. Serving doesn’t have to mean working all day every day at a seniors’ centre (although should you be moved to do so, you would certainly be welcome). Serving can be something as simple as listening to someone; calling a loved one; playing with your little brother; emptying the dishwasher for your mother; sweeping for your wife; spending time with your children; participating in church activities such as the offering, Communion, the worship group, the youth group or the welcoming committee; or simply praying for one another.
It is worth mentioning, however, that there are some risks to service. These include the danger of being exploited by others and the temptation to overexert ourselves. We all have our limits, both physical and spiritual. Saying yes to everything is not the best way to serve. We all have the right to rest, just as God rested on the 7th day. We must not allow others to abuse our generosity. Some will want to take advantage of our marketable skills, while others will use pious rhetoric to guilt-trip those who do not wish to be involved in service. Let us therefore pray for the Holy Spirit to open our hearts so that we may be in the right place at the right time, and to rejuvenate us and prepare us to serve with love. Let us use the gifts that God has given us for the betterment of His kingdom. Let us pray for God Himself to guide us in our service to all — family, friends, Christians, non-Christians and strangers — so that all may see through us the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, whose love for us led him to come to serve us.