Spotlight 3/2023: Called to serve and reign
“This year, the Lord is drawing our attention to our present and future vocation, namely to serve and reign with Christ,” District Apostle Jürg Zbinden of Switzerland writes. Using the story of Joseph, he explains our 2023 motto.
We want to be servants of Christ already today. He helps us to live His gospel in our daily lives and to show the people around us how great the love of God is. In Matthew 24: 12 Jesus gives a crucial hint for our time: “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.” So where lawlessness abounds, people will despise the triune God and also their neighbour. This is where our serving comes in, through which we are to draw the attention of others to the unconditional love of God and to trust in God.
We have also been called to reign today. With the help of Christ we endeavour to rule over our own thoughts and actions. After all, the point is not to exert pressure on our neighbour; the idea is to remain in control of our own way of life.
Joseph, the son of Jacob, is a good example. We can read about him starting in Genesis 39. He was sold as a slave to Potiphar, an Egyptian officer. Potiphar saw that God was with the young man and made him overseer of his entire house and all that he had. Joseph served him in an exemplary way, and God was with him and blessed him. Joseph was handsome and after a while Potiphar’s wife took notice of him and tried to seduce him. But Joseph staunchly refused her advances and said: “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” After his refusal, Potiphar’s wife became angry and falsely accused him. Because of his faith in God and because he wanted to keep a clear conscience Joseph was thrown into prison. But even there, God is with him. After his release, Pharaoh put him in charge over all of Egypt and made him his deputy.
It is worth reflecting a little on this Bible story and on Joseph who trusted God, served Him, and did not lose control even in temptation.
As in Joseph’s life, not everything always goes according to our expectations. This is what happened to me when I wanted to visit two congregations in Romania shortly before Christmas. I was up for a special lesson in the divine discipline of patience. Due to heavy snow flurries in Zurich, I did not catch my connecting flight in Munich. I really wanted to serve the brothers and sisters in Romania, so hoping to catch the flight late in the evening I joined a huge line of travellers several hundred metres long all waiting at a service counter. During the long wait, there were interesting conversations and some opportunities to give testimony of our faith. After more than eight hours, all I received was a hotel voucher and the recommendation to travel back home by train the next day. I am sure you can imagine the feelings I was struggling with. Now it was time to actually live by our annual motto. With Christ I managed to get a grip and reign over the various emotions in my heart and was once again able to create the conditions necessary to be able to serve Him in the proper way.
I am glad that we can prepare ourselves in this time for all the tasks we will have to perform alongside Christ.