Spotlight 06: The joy of serving Christ
In our “Spotlight” series, District Apostles from around the world share their thoughts on the 2015 motto. This week, District Apostle Shadreck M. Lubasi writes about the joy that can be found in serving Christ.
The joy of serving Christ includes a feeling of great pleasure, happiness, and satisfaction that is generated in the heart as a result of rendering a service to Christ gladly and to one’s best ability. Joy is an emotion; it is deep and lasts as long as one renews the love and trust for God. It is more than just a smile or a laugh or the pleasant feeling that results when someone praises us.
I still recall the days when I first came to East Africa. In those days I was a good singer (in my own opinion), but I had no music reading and choir directing skills. Propelled by the hunger and conviction to do more for the Lord, I took up the challenge of teaching the choir. I kind of succeeded initially, but only to teach the melody. Then I ran into technical problems as I could not teach the other voices. I sought help from some of my friends from Zambia who recorded the other voice parts on cassettes. The cassettes were of great help to us.
First of all, I practised the four voices at home. Then, during choir practices, I would have the choir members listen to their individual voice parts on the tape and help them learn their parts. I would then come in as choir director and try to put the parts together. It was very challenging because after helping them with their parts, say soprano and bass, I was completely confused and unable to sing the two other voices. At this point we would be completely lost, and would revert to listening to the tapes again. Fortunately the choir members were very responsive and cooperative. We listened to the tapes every Saturday and Sunday after divine service.
When we noticed that we were making progress, the choir members felt genuine joy. I recall one day when I was driving the late Chief Apostle Richard Fehr during his visit to Kenya, I overheard him say to the late District Apostle Helper Vovak, “Each time I come here, I notice an improvement in the choir.” Although I pretended not to have heard him, I was very encouraged. Today, when I look back, I can only say that it was the joy of serving Christ and the Spirit of God that kept us together. Notwithstanding many shortcomings and challenges, the choir members stayed and persisted until the Lord provided competent music teachers from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zambia.
Our joy becomes even greater when one now sees the local members who have acquired requisite skills and now take on the challenge and with zeal and joy teach and serve Christ.
Serving the Lord joyfully brings much fulfilment in our Christian life. Therefore one should strive to learn more, and serve gladly and with zeal despite limitations or a lack of resources. Joy in Christ also develops from experiences of faith and the Holy Spirit’s revelations from the word of God. Joy is an indication of growing faith. There is joy in the heart when one comes to a point where one is completely convinced that the almighty God is in charge despite apparent obstacles. You are then completely convinced that God knows you personally and is involved in guiding the course of events in your life.
We can increase the joy of serving in our hearts when we actively participate in singing songs of praise and thanksgiving. I always feel excited when the singing environment avails itself to sing songs of praise and thanksgiving, and when we can pray together with our brothers and sisters and share their experiences with them.
Unfortunately, it is not always the case that we find ourselves in an atmosphere that promotes joy in our hearts. Sadness, and sometimes great sorrow, pain and suffering occur as a result of pretence, unfaithfulness, and a lack of care. Occasionally one has to battle against strife, envy, sickness, injustice, or deal with the death of a loved one. When this happens, one must return to the basics and remember that we are on a pilgrim journey and that God will complete His work.
“I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage” (Deuteronomy 5: 6). “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1: 6).
Let us meditate upon the promises of God and His plan of salvation daily. Let us stay within the fellowship of brothers and sisters, and allocate more time for private and sincere prayers. When this is done in humbleness of heart then the inner joy of the soul remains despite outward suffering.
It is quite possible that at times our own attitude can contribute to the lack of joy we feel when serving. Therefore it is always necessary to examine our love for the work of God and our neighbour to see how real and genuine it is. When we cannot bear the imperfections of our neighbour, our joy of serving suffers.
When the joy of serving Christ is our motivation, we can effortlessly respond to the needs of Christ’s church and our neighbour. We will experience the culmination of this joy on the day of Christ’s return, when He comes in His glory and brings His reward with Him. He will keep is promise provided we endure and remain faithful until the end. The encouraging words of our Lord Jesus apply, “I know your works, tribulations and poverty (but you are rich) … Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer” (Revelation 2: 9–10).
Our joy will be even greater when we reach our goal and the place which the Lord has prepared for us.