I love the holidays. Ever since I was a kid I have loved this time of the year. I loved it for a few reasons. Obviously, I loved it for spending time with my family and eating and laughing and opening presents, but I also waited all year for one thing. I waited all year for the Twilight Zone marathon.
My cousins and I would huddle together around my grandparents’ little television in their basement in West Orange, NJ and watch the New Year’s Eve marathon. One episode, a classic, is titled, “To Serve Man.” In this episode, earth is visited by spaceships carrying a large race of aliens called the Kanamits. At first the earthlings are skeptical of these Kanamits, but as they learn more and more, it seems they come in peace. The aliens shared advances in science and technology. They shared farming techniques and showed real care to the inhabitants of earth. They brought with them a book. This book looked like a Bible or a manual of some sort, but it was written in their language so it required government code breakers to determine what it actually was.
The government specialists finally cracked the code and the title appeared to be, “To Serve Man.” What great news! The Kanamits were there to serve! As time progressed, people were boarding ships to go and visit the Kanamits’ home planet. Of course, it didn’t end up as well as they had hoped. SPOILER ALERT: upon further investigation, a government agent runs towards the ship shouting to a colleague that the book was not titled, “To Serve Man.” The book was titled, “How to Serve Man.” It wasn’t a guidebook for selfless living; it was a cookbook!
In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul outlines different gifts of the Spirit that equip us for an entirely different way of “serving man”. In his letter to the Romans, Paul uses the word Diakonia (dee-ah-kah-nee-ah) which means administration or service; serviceable labor. This is where we get the word Deacon.
I never thought I had much to contribute. When I heard service, I thought missions or full time ministry. Growing up in the church not feeling like I had anything to give felt awkward. I learned over time that service did not necessarily mean hopping on a plane and jetting over to Zimbabwe to feed orphans or build a hospital. That may be what it means for some of us, but not for all of us. I learned that giving of your time as well as your finances and talents are service as well. I have played worship in corporate gatherings for over seventeen years. I have taught VBS classes, been a day-camp counselor and spent some time among homeless individuals in Florida. Without realizing it, I had been serving through the power of the Holy Spirit!
You may not feel like you are serving, but service does not look the same in everyone. We cannot all be feet and we cannot all be hands. We are not all international missionaries and we are not all called to preach sermons. The same way that there are many gifts but one Spirit, there are many parts but one body. Each of us has a part to play in the body of Christ. If you sit back and consider what Christ is doing in your life, you may find that you are serving in ways that you did not even realize!