Altruistic Christian Service

by Rev'd Dr Karo Ogbinaka

Altruistic Christian Service: “Happy are your men and happy are these your servants who stand continually before you and hear your wisdom” (1 Kings 10:8; 2 Chronicles 9:7). Human actions are often driven by two desires that they may want to rationalize.  Many are egoistic.

Many self-centred people think that it is only what benefits them, what falls into their perspective that is important and good. They advocate and promote this philosophy.  This is what they endorse. Nothing is good if they do not benefit from it. Everything is good so long as they make personal gains from it.

The other set of people is the altruists.  They think of ‘other-worldliness.’ They look at the bigger picture and fear the danger of being self-centred. They strongly feel that there is no difference between the “I” and the “thou”.

Egoistic people suffer an ‘entitlement mentality.’  Their motto is GIVE ME.  Altruistic people are givers. Their motto is TAKE. They are ‘other-worldliness in disposition. Egoism is self-loving. Altruism is other-loving. But “God so loved the world that He gave His son” (John 3:16).

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The act of ‘service’ is a noble thing to do. To minister is to serve. Those employed by the state are called ‘servants’ (civil or public). Today, however, this word is abused; as serving now equates to LORDING. Jesus came to serve the world. He served God by serving us.

He called us brothers/friends. He earned His Lordship through serving us.  “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of man. He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death on the cross” (Philippians 2:5-6).

Whatever it is that makes us believe that we are more special than others; to be self-centred is borne out of what the Preacher calls ‘vanity.’  They are our possessions, our education, our beauty, the office we hold, and the relationships we keep.  But let us note that

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.  For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Romans 8:5-6). This is true.

A lifestyle of pursuing outward worldly things, and desires of the flesh, is borne out of one’s desires for the flesh, and not the things of the Spirit, which is Christ.  Christ is life and peace.  Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd because He emptied Himself for His sheep (John 10:14; Hebrew 13:20; 1 Peter 5:4).

The divine altruism of Christ is outlined thus: He had compassion for His sheep (Mark 6: 34), and in John 10: 16, He sought (looked for) His sheep to care for, and save them (1 Peter 2:25). Finally, our souls were important to Christ; not His soul (Revelation 7:19).

Dear people of God, we are failing today because of our irrational love for material things. Until our leadership is built on a ‘sheep-centric’ model, we shall continue to be objects of human ridicule. The Bible calls us “Gentiles” for behaving as such.

“For after all these things the Gentile seeks.  For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things” (Matthew 6:32). The Gentiles are those who do not know a personal, loving, and providential God. God knows our every need and material desire.

Nevertheless, God admonishes us that we should “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). God rewards kind-hearted people in many ways.  Here, we should recall how Peter restored the life of Dorcas at Joppa. She was rewarded because of her kindness to other women in the fold of Christ.

“Now there was at Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity” (Acts 9:36, 37-43).

Shalom and God bless!

The Rev’d Dr Karo Ogbinaka, an Anglican priest of the Diocese of Lagos West, lectures at the Department of Philosophy, University of Lagos. He is a member of the editorial board of The Trumpet.

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