Get a bunch of brand new cleaning supplies such as sponges, dusters, toilet bowl cleaner, toilet brushes, plungers, dish rags, dish soap, scrub brushes, etc. Make sure you get enough so each child can take something home with him or her. The dollar store is a great place to find these items, and use coupons to minimize costs. Wrap each item as a present. Make sure you also have a trash bag handy for quick clean up! Also, make a PowerPoint slide of a plain bicycle wheel with spokes. If you do not have PowerPoint capabilities, make a sign on poster board.
"Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others."
Today, I'm going to share with you Philippians 2:1-4. "Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others."
This is one of my favorite Bible passages. When I became serious about Christ, I remember reading this passage and thinking, "Wow. God wants me to treat others this way? That's impossible!" I didn't know how to do all those things. How would your life look if you were encouraging, loving and humble? What would our church look like if we were loving and always considered others as more important than ourselves?
Well, I don't know about you, but sometimes that's a hard thing to do. My natural instinct always is to think about what would benefit me; but God wants us to think about the interests of others. It's not about me-me-me. You see, God created us to be not only in a relationship with Him, but in relationship with each other.
Take a look at the screen. What do you see? That's right! A bicycle wheel. This concept is called Evangrius' Wheel. Let's pretend the wheel represents all of our spiritual journeys. God is the center of everything, so He's the center point. The goal is for us to grow closer to God. Here I am growing closer to God, and here you are growing closer to God, and here so-and-so is growing closer to God. We're all on this journey. Look at this: As we travel closer to God, we also are growing closer to one another, too. If we're in that proximity of one another, we need to be considerate and loving toward one another.
So let's put this into practice. Here I have in this basket some tools that will help you live out your faith. These tools will not make you a Christian, but they sure will help you live the way God wants you to live. So everybody line up (facing the congregation). I'll come past, and you each get a present. Just hang on to it. When I count to three, we'll all unwrap our gifts to see what tool you've been given.
1-2-3! Let's see here! What do you have? Hold it up. Does everybody know what they have? Let's see, what do you have? Do you know what that is? A toilet bowl brush. What about you? What do you have? (Go through a few). How do you think these things make you better Christians? No, not because cleanliness is next to godliness. These things can help us in our walk with God, because they can help us serve others. If we are growing closer to God and closer to other people, our lives will end up helping others. Would it help your mom if you cleaned the bathroom? Would it help your dad if you washed the dishes?
Jesus was the perfect example of this. Right before He was crucified, He washed His disciples' feet. I know that might now mean a lot to us now, but imagine not having a car and having to walk everywhere. Imagine you're walking in a hot, sandy desert or in places with dirt roads. If it rained, you'd have to walk through mud. Imagine your feet got hot and sweaty, and all that mud, dirt and sand stuck to your feet. YUCK! Your feet would be gross! Nast-y! The servants in people's houses who had to clean other people's feet had the most demeaning and lowest jobs. These jobs were disgusting. Today, we would liken this job to having to clean someone else's toilet—and Jesus did it! He was God wrapped in flesh, yet He lowered Himself to do the yuckiest job simply because He loved His disciples and wanted to show them how to serve and love one another. He considered others as more important than Himself. He was a true Servant.
So here are a few tips I came up with to help you understand what being a humble servant means:
1) Serve simply to be helpful. If you know it will benefit someone, go ahead. Help out!
2) Serve, even if it is undesirable. Sometimes there are things no one wants to do, but they have to be done. Most of the time doing whatever it is will be the biggest benefit—more than anything else—because you are doing something no one else is willing to do.
3) Serve without complaining. When we whine and complain, our hearts are not really in the effort. We need to take joy in helping others.
4) Serve without being asked. Volunteering is different than doing your duty. Duty is something you have to do—it is a requirement. Volunteering is serving out of love for others.
So who are we supposed to serve? Well, just think of our wheel—God and one another! You know, serving others doesn't always have to be going out and serving poor people in other countries. It can be, but it also includes serving people right here next to us: our families, our church, our friends, our neighbors. Let's all try find a way to serve in our families this week.