Editor’s note: The following is an adaptation of Pastor David Jamieson’s sermon at the Canadian University College alumni weekend, College Heights, Alberta, Canada, June 4, 2011.
The world’s population is witnessing a global revolution. On January 14, 2011, an uprising in Tunisia led to President Ben Ali fleeing the country after his 23-year-long reign. This Tunisian spark lit a flame all across the Arab world that many are calling the Islamic awakening.
Popular uprisings have overthrown long-reigning regimes in Egypt and Libya. Protests have erupted in other parts of the Middle East against perceived injustice, authoritarian rulership, and rising food and fuel prices. Similar protests have also taken place in other parts of the world such as Bolivia and Chile. The Occupy movement has called for people to camp out in the major cities of Canada and the United States to protest for political and economic change. People everywhere are asking, What in the world is wrong? For the first time in human history, an unprecedented desire exists for political change. Why? Well, according to www.worldrevolution.org
- Half the world’s population lives on less than two dollars a day.
- Eight hundred million people are malnourished.
- Nearly 200 million of these malnourished are children.
- Twenty-four thousand people die every day from hunger; that’s 8.7 million people per year.
- More than a billion people lack access to clean drinking water.
- Thirty-three percent of the world’s people live in authoritarian, nondemocratic countries.
- One billion, or one-third, of the world’s labor force is currently unemployed or underemployed.
- One-half of the forests that originally covered 46 percent of earth’s land surface are gone.
- Twenty-seven million people worldwide are enslaved.
- Between 10–20 percent of all species will be driven to extinction in the next 20 to 50 years.
- Sixty percent of the world’s coral reefs, which contain up to one-fourth of the world’s marine species, could be lost in the next 20 to 40 years.
- The assets of the 200 richest people in the world in 1998 were more than the total annual income of 42 percent of the world’s people. Three families the Bill Gates family, the family of the Sultan of Brunei, and the Walton family have a combined wealth of $135 billion. Their value equals the annual income of 600 million people living in the world’s poorest countries.1
Are these statistics as staggering to you as they are to me? We are a part of a global community that is in crisis. People are suffering in unthinkable and unspeakable ways. It is time for a worldwide wake-up call.
What the world needs today, what the church needs today, is not to experience a revolution aimed at overthrowing a government with anger, violence, and revolt but to experience a revolution of compassion, love, and service.
What the world needs to see today is a servolution.
What is a servolution?
Servolution is a combination of the words revolution and service that, when put into practice, has a compounding result for the church, world, and kingdom of God. According to Dino Rizzo, servolution is “a significant change in the course of history sparked by simple acts of kindness. . . . [A servolution is] 1. A complete and radical change of a person’s life caused by simple acts of kindness for the glory of God. 2. God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. 3. A church revolution through serving.”2 Servolution cannot be described as a program or event, but the divine culture of God’s kingdom birthed in the church of God. A culture of sacrifice and service that can change the world! Servolution is not just a call to action. It is a call to being. It is a picture of the church of God finally rising up to fulfill the command of Jesus to “ ‘ “love your neighbor as yourself” ’ ” (Mark 12:31). Servolution asks the question, What Would Dorcas Do?
Servolution fulfills the words of Jesus in Matthew 25:40: “‘“I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” ’ ”3 Servolution fulfills the mandate of the Spirit of Prophecy: “Christ’s method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Saviour mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, ‘Follow Me.’ ”4 “If we would humble ourselves before God, and be kind and courteous and tenderhearted and pitiful, there would be one hundred conversions to the truth where now there is only one.”5
Why do we serve?
We serve others for several simple reasons:
- Because Jesus did. He is the greatest Example of serving.
- Because Jesus calls us to follow His example.
- Because service is a tangible expression of the love of God for lost humanity.
- Because service breaks down barriers and opens hearts.
- Because service changes our world, our church, and our lives.
The goal of extreme servolution calls for the demonstration of the love of Jesus. You see this demonstration of the gospel fast replacing the proclamation of the gospel. Telling people the truth without loving them hardly encourages them to embrace it. The fact is, words are important, but our actions carry more weight than our words.
Note the five steps in developing an extreme servolution strategy.
Extreme servolution is about serving with no strings attached
Extreme servolution can be defined as one of the greatest principles of Christianity. The foundation of the Christian faith is the undeserved, unmerited, and unconditional grace of God toward every human being who has ever lived. Jesus said, “ ‘A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another’ ” (John 13:34).
How did Jesus love others? The most well-known verse in the Bible tells us how much He loves us. “ ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life’ ” (John 3:16).
But notice that when Jesus first shared these words during a late-night conversation with Nicodemus, He shocked him beyond belief. Nicodemus was expecting to hear a much different kind of strategy, but he was jarred by the answer he received from Jesus. First, Jesus asserted that God has a Son. This was a challenge to the radical monotheism central to the core belief of Judaism. Second, Jesus declared that the redemptive mission of God was not based on “For God so loved the synagogue,” but rather on “For God so loved the world.” For Pharisees like Nicodemus, the kingdom of God was seen as a reward intended for the benefit of God’s people, for the benefit of those in the church, not as a gift to the world. This churchcentric thinking often still mirrors the same myopic and distorted view of God’s love today. Finally, Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son.” God gave His Son freely to the entire world with no strings attached.
In fact, Jesus never left a city in the same condition as it was when He arrived. But He never wanted those He served to feel like they owed Him anything either. Ephesians 5:1, 2 says, “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
So, if we are determined to be like Jesus, who went about blessing and healing people freely, then we need to treat people the same way. In fact, sometimes we need to serve others without them ever knowing who has been doing the serving.
We should not serve people in our communities expecting them to become Seventh-day Adventists. But as Seventh-day Adventists, we serve the people in our communities with no strings attached because that is what Jesus would do.
Extreme servolution is about serving with extravagant generosity
Jesus was a Revolutionary. Or should I say a Servolutionary? Matthew 20:28 says, “ ‘[T]he Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’ ” When you pay a ransom for someone or something, you usually pay a very high price. Just look at the incredible exchange God offered us: we get Christ, forgiveness, and an amazing life now and in the hereafter, and in return He gets us! Obviously, we got the best part of that deal, but amazingly God does not see it that way. In His unbelievable love, He wanted us so badly the He gave His only begotten Son to die on a cross for you and me. That is some pretty ridiculous generosity, wouldn’t you say?
Ridiculous generosity describes exactly what we have received from God. He is the perfect Example of extreme giving. Every account of the life of Jesus describes Him living in an overwhelmingly generous way with His time, talents, resources, compassion, and, of course, service. Therefore, everything about our Christianity should also be about serving and giving as well. We do not want to be known for our average generosity. We want to be a church that gives with extreme generosity.
The church needs to serve the world around it with the same kind of unconditional love and grace that God has given us. We need to risk doing outrageously loving things because, when we go above and beyond what others may expect of us to express the love of God, the results of those loving actions are multiplied in the lives of others in incredible ways for God’s kingdom.
Extreme servolution is about expanding the kingdom, not just the church
This leads us to another huge concept that many Christians have not fully grasped. It is not about growing the church; rather, it is about advancing the kingdom of God. We serve others in our communities to advance God’s kingdom on this earth.
As Christians, we are called to do our part in bringing the kingdom of God to this earth every single day. How? Well, whether you realize it or not, God has given you a kingdom assignment.
Every day when you pray, you can bring the kingdom of God down to this earth. Notice the powerful words that Jesus taught us to pray in the beginning of the Lord’s Prayer, “ ‘ “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” ’ ” (Matt. 6:9, 10).
Extreme servolution reminds us that people matter to God
We can pray and ask God to live out His kingdom values in our everyday lives. Then, as we go through our day, we can watch for opportunities to do what Jesus would do if He were still here on this earth. So, let me ask, Are we praying the Lord’s Prayer every day? For if we will focus our attention on building God’s kingdom, then He will see to it that His church grows.
The Gospel of Luke records the greatest reason why Jesus came to serve. “ ‘For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost’ ” (Luke 19:10). Jesus lived His life seeking opportunities to find lost people and lead them to their heavenly Father. Every day He turned His love for people into action. He had the ability to be in a crowd of people and yet serve the needs of a single person who was desperate for healing.
The heart of God sees people in our cities, our homes, the cubicles next to us, and down the street, and He values them as precious people whom He cannot possibly live without. People matter to God more than anything! And if people matter to God, then they must matter to us as well.
Extreme servolution is the path to continuous blessing
Probably the clearest picture of servolution we see in the Bible is that of Jesus in John 13. In Jesus’ day, people wore sandals as they traveled the dusty roads. The custom of the day was to wash the feet of guests when they arrived at their destination, but servants typically performed that duty, not the master of the house.
John describes how Jesus got up from the table, took off His garment, put on a servant’s towel, and preached a sermon in action by serving His disciples and washing their dirty feet. Then He said, “ ‘Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them’ ” (John 13:17). Jesus said there are many blessings that come from serving others.
But that was not the first time that Scripture declared such a powerful truth. In the first book of the Bible we read about how God blessed Abraham: “ ‘I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you’ ” (Gen. 12:2, 3). God does not bless us for the sake of just blessing us. Rather, He blesses us so that we can be a blessing.
The role of the church is simply this: to bless the world. And every time we do, amazing things will happen. Can you imagine how different the world would be if each one of us who claims to know Christ would do one act of kindness for someone every day? The results would be astonishing and the world would be a better place. We could overcome all the evil in the world with good if we all made a commitment to serve others the way Jesus did. In fact, the opposite is also true. The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil in our world is for good men to do nothing.
So, let me ask you, Will you perpetuate the problems in the world today? Will you be indifferent or make excuses? Or will you gladly join in an extreme servolution? God is counting on us! The world needs the church today to rise up and be the church of God on this earth.
So, let the servolution begin!
1 “Overview of Global Issues,” World Revolution, accessed March 19, 2012, www.worldrevolution.org /WRNewFiles/GlobalIssues1.pdf; “The State of the World: Human Rights,” World Revolution, accessed March 19, 2012, www.worldrevolution.org/projects /globalissuesoverview/overview2/briefhumanrights.htm.
2 Dino Rizzo, Servolution: Starting a Church Revolution Through Serving (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009), 18.
3 All Scripture passages, unless otherwise noted, are from the New International Version.
4 Ellen G. White, The Ministry of Healing (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1942), 143.
5 Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1948), 9:189.