Have you ever felt like though you are highly involved in church or with a local ministry, your spiritual life is hollow? Somehow you knew that despite the outward appearance of fervency, your battery was drained. That happens due to the practice based on the idea that the true assessment of spirituality is activity and not relationship. While it is good to be active in service, earning an award as the most dedicated volunteer in your local church doesn’t imply that your spiritual life is healthy. Only depth of relationship and revelation measures spiritual health.
38 As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught.40 But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” 41 But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! 42 There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” – Luke 10:38-42 (NLT)
Martha was more interested in cooking and serving tables than what Jesus said and taught. Applying it to our dispensation, many are so preoccupied with church activity and volunteer work that they have neglected personal fellowship and relationship building through the Word. God desires communion and fellowship with us above our service. There are definite benefits of service but not as significant as relationship.
God is focused on our relationship with him which ought to be progressive. At the early stages of their relationship, Jesus referred to His disciples as servants. He was their master. But as the relationship progressed, He calls them friends and ultimately calls them brothers. The highest order of relationship we have with God is as sons. This is a privilege that was made available only after Jesus had restored the relationship between man and God by His death.
It is noteworthy that you cannot be a friend without being a servant of God. Friendship with God implies that you obey Him and are yielded to Him. However, you can be a servant of God without being a friend of God.
Illustration: A wealthy man has two servants. Servant A serves him faithfully by bringing his meals, cleaning his space, doing all the job description requires and more in a timely and committed fashion. He however never speaks to the master, neither does he listen to what the master has to say. Servant B spends time talking to the master and listening to the things the master has to say. He engages him in conversation about the things that bother him and other relevant matters. They develop a close personal relationship based on love. The love formed drives servant B to get his work done reliably as well as commune with his master.
Similarly, in the kingdom of God, service shows your commitment but relationship is based on love and built by communion. Diligent service will guarantee servant A’s salary but relationship will write servant B into the master’s will… testament.
Some serve because they are naturally diligent people. It is their way of life therefore service has become a tradition lacking intent. Jesus said to the Samaritan woman in John 4, ‘you worship but you have no relationship.’ You are going through the motions but you lack the understanding. This produces fruitless service or at best trickles of blessings. Most in this group will eventually burn out.
People who focus on building their personal relationship will serve with understanding and purpose. Their service will be with passion because it is driven by love. Whatever is offered on the altar of love will always be accepted by God.
It is tragic when kingdom service becomes the excuse for a lack of relationship. Don’t be too busy being an usher or a chorister to have your personal devotion and study. Neither should one be too busy being a pastor to grow in their relationship with God. Assignments can be delegated but relationship must never be delegated. Moses delegated some leadership responsibilities to lighten his load but never delegated relationship. He had to go before God by himself.
We build our relationship and develop intimacy with God through His word. Staying in the Word of God makes us feel closer to Him and makes us know Him. Reading the Bible is God speaking to us and prayer is us speaking to God. Intimacy is built by reading, studying and meditating on the Word. That should be the foremost priority above everything else.
Relationship brings about depth and revelation. Recall Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.’ There are depths of insight in the Word that can only be received on the platform of relationship. Relationship, when properly established will ignite the fire of service. It is more profitable to sit at His feet than keep busy. Though service is very important and has its merits, if a decision must be made, choose relationship. Prioritization is the key here. Relationship should never be sacrificed on the altar of service. Shalom.