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What Does Serving Have to Do with Following Jesus?


group of volunteers in school classroom

Serving or volunteering is the act of giving oneself to help others without any expectation of receiving anything in return. It is an act of kindness and compassion that can have a significant impact on the lives of those who are in need.


In many religious traditions, serving and volunteering are central values that are emphasized as a means of showing love and compassion toward others. These values are rooted in the belief that every human being is created in the image of God and that we are called to serve and care for one another.


man in jacket smiling with trashbag

For example, in the Bible, Jesus Christ is portrayed as the ultimate servant leader who came to serve and not to be served. In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus tells his disciples, "Whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all" (Mark 10:43-44). He then goes on to demonstrate this servant leadership by washing his disciples' feet, an act of service that was traditionally reserved for the lowest servant in the household.


In the Old Testament, the concept of serving others is also emphasized as a way of expressing one's love for God. Leviticus 19:18 instructs, "Love your neighbor as yourself," and Deuteronomy 15:11 commands, "Open your hand to the poor and needy." The Talmud is the central text of Rabbinic Judaism and the primary source of Jewish religious law and Jewish theology. It likewise teaches that one of the highest forms of charity is to help someone become self-sufficient, rather than simply providing them with temporary relief.


volunteers with hair nets scooping ingredients into funnel

child with hair net smiling holding a cardboard box

There are numerous other stories in the Bible and other religious texts that emphasize the importance of serving and volunteering. For example, the story of the Good Samaritan in the Gospel of Luke teaches us to show compassion to all people, regardless of their background or circumstances. The book of James encourages us to put our faith into action by caring for the poor and needy. And the book of Proverbs tells us that "Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done" (Proverbs 19:17).


So why is serving and volunteering so important? First and foremost, it is a way of expressing our love and compassion toward others, and it fulfills our obligation to care for those in need. It is also a way of building community and strengthening social bonds, as we come together to work towards a common goal. In conclusion, serving and volunteering are central values in many religious traditions and are emphasized as a means of expressing our love and compassion towards others. By serving and volunteering, we can make a tangible difference in the lives of those in need, build community, and grow as individuals. Whether it's volunteering at a local food bank, mentoring a young person, or simply helping out a neighbor in need, there are countless ways that we can serve and give back to our communities.

two homes side by side with people standing in front of them

So where do we start? Oftentimes, the opportunity to serve others is right in front of us. No opportunity is too small to step up and serve. Perhaps you have a neighbor who could be in need of a friendly chat. Or maybe your coworker is currently going through a difficult situation and needs a listening ear. Whatever or whoever it may be, God has placed you exactly where he intends for you to be. We can take the opportunities right in front of us to worship God through acts of service, big and small.


If you're looking for an ongoing volunteer opportunity, RiverGlen has several local partnerships with schools, shelters, food pantries, and more, where we send volunteers both on a weekly and as-needed basis. RiverGlen also has plenty of serve opportunities within the church on the weekends and during special events. If you'd like to be added to the email list of opportunities or to find something specific, fill out our serving interest form here.

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