The Confusing Causes and Effects of 'Service'

I’ve been thinking about notions of serving a lot lately. Like how I thought that we should buy an empty lot downtown and put in a basketball court for kids to play at.
“We don’t need any basketball courts” one pastor of a downtown church said, “Nobody plays basketball anymore, they’re all inside their houses playing video games!”

I missed the mark on that one! I had no idea all these poor kids had video games. I know that one person’s opinion may be off, that maybe if there were a court dozens of kids would come out and play, but it just shows that I didn’t know what the hood’s needs were.

Now we’re moving down there, and I’m seeing how easy it is to insulate and seal up a house and fix the enormous heating bill (Our high bill was $575, and that seems low compared to other ones I hear about).

But would it be a service to go in with a bunch of my friends from out of town and insulate some homes? How much better would it be if I could get some people to pay for the labor, and then get the insulation donated, and then pay some neighborhood boys to help me do the work? What if there were a little band of high school or Jr. High guys that knew all about sealing up a home and cutting energy bills? That would be cool. They might not get a job in the future doing that, but the might just learn how to do hard work and find a practical way to let Jesus really serve through them.

Which brings me back to serving. Doing helpful tasks is not necessarily serving. If it were, then Martha would have been esteemed and Mary rebuked for sitting around at Jesus’ feet. When we take a crew somewhere, and they charge in and do a bunch of work and then leave, is that the kind of serving Jesus wished for? I’m not sure about that. In my own case, I have received help and given help in the blitzkrieg style, and I know in a lot of ways it helped me (when I was the recipient) and it helped the people (when I was the giver) but I get a feeling there is a better way to serve. I think there is a deeper, longer lasting way of serving a person rather than building them an outhouse or mowing their yard.

Yesterday I saw a neighbor boy driving around his yard on his riding lawnmower. The blade wasn‚Äôt engaged, it was just a poor man‚Äôs four-wheeler. I wonder if I would have given him 10 bucks and sent him to mow somebody‚Äôs yard…