Last week was our annual Fixin’ Up The Thumb Servant Event. Fixin’ Up The Thumb is a home rehab project and we were able to work on nine homes this year. What a tremendous week, filled with many blessings, much work completed, and a tremendous opportunity to grow in what it means to be a servant of Jesus.
As we were finishing up the cleanup here at church I remembered that I needed to still caulk the boot around the electric service mast pipe of the home that I worked on last week. We didn’t get it done because we didn’t have any lag screws. So yesterday I drove back to my worksite armed with some lag screws and a caulk gun. When I drove into the driveway the dog started barking and then the homeowner came out into the garage. I knocked on the garage door and she called out, “who is it?” I called back, “Greg.” Then she asked, “Greg who?”
I found that funny because just the week before I had overseen a crew that tore down a rotted back room off of her garage, stripped her garage (with four layers of shingles on it!), reroofed the garage, installed a new sump pump, laid 90’ of pipe through a trench in the yard for the new sump pump, installed a new front door, installed two new handrails, and built new shelving in the garage. It’s like we became one of their family for the week. We prayed together every day, shared laughs and meals together and now she was asking me, “Greg who?” Of course when she saw my face she laughed at her own question.
However, it reminded me of Jesus’ words in Luke 13:
He went on his way through towns and villages, teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem. And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, I do not know where you come from.’ Then you will begin to say, We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’ In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out. And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.” (Luke 13:22-30 ESV)
I think the saddest part of that passage is when they say, “We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.” There are many who have been around Jesus and the church but to whom Jesus will say, “Who are you?” Maybe they warmed the church pew Sunday after Sunday. Maybe they worked on tons of Servant Events. Maybe they even served the church as a professional church worker and yet in the end they’ll be cast out of Jesus’ presence forever.
As Jesus says, the last shall be first, and the first shall be last. And Luther also said, “For even though you know that He is God’s Son, that He died and rose again, and that He sits at the right hand of the Father, you have not yet learned to know Christ aright…(until you also) believe that He did all this for your sake, in order to help you.” (AE 30:30)
Rather than trust in our own works, let us trust in how Jesus has served us. Our service will then flow out of thankfulness to God and a love for our neighbor in need. Then on the last day we won’t hear, “who?” but rather will hear “well done, good and faithful servant.”