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Observers of the current Christian scene frequently point out how self-focused much of Evangelical teaching is and how self-focused much of Evangelical living is.  By “self-focused” I mean giving a lot of attention to personal happiness and self-fulfillment.  Church in America has often become a kind of self-help culture where we learn to make healthy choices and feel good about ourselves.  I saw a church website recently where the pastor calls himself a “life-coach.”  He even charges by the hour!  I don’t know if self-focused teaching is making Christians live self-focused lives, or if self-focused living makes pastors decide to preach what people are interested in, but it’s hard to link any of these ideas to the Bible.  Jesus seems to speak mostly about self-denial when he speaks of the self.

Obviously, if one is self-focused, one’s attention goes largely to oneself.  This is natural for us, because sinful humanity tends toward self-centeredness.  When I look at Jesus, the perfect man, the main focus of His life is on His Father in heaven (John 4:34 “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to accomplish His work”), and then from the father He turns His focus to other people.  You will notice that He is simply following the two great commandments -- love God with all that you are, and love your neighbor as yourself (Matt 22:37-39).  When we do that, there really isn’t much time for self.  And that’s okay.  Jesus said, “I am in the midst of you as one who serves” (Luke 22:27).  That really needs to be our driving motivation as well --service to others.

One way we can serve others at church is to make ourselves aware of the needs of others.  A need may be something very practical we can do for someone, or it may be the most basic of human needs:  friendship, conversation, and genuine interest.  This is easiest to do with friends or people who are like us in terms of lifestyle and interests.  It’s harder to do with people whose background, economic condition, or interests are unlike ours.  But that person who is different is exactly the one who may need you to cross the line because they want to feel accepted and may not be sure they “fit in.”  Are you looking out for that someone who might need a warm welcome, and a friend?

As you serve Jesus, let me encourage you to expand your circle of friends at church, and deliberately make an effort to reach out to every person God brings our way.  Ministry in Christ’s name only really happens when we all are doing our part in uniting everyone in fellowship as brothers and sisters before the Lord.  Only when many people in the church commit to serving others will Christ be made known in ever-widening circles of people He loves and desires to make His own.  Be His hand that reaches out.


Yours in Christ,


Pastor Wayne Wilson

Originally printed in The AFBC Pony Express. Vol. VI, No. 4, April 2013.


“Give ear and come to me, hear me, that your soul may live.”

– Isaiah 55:3