Serve the City

Sermon Recap | In the Image of the God Who Serves


This past weekend over 500 people served across the city with our seven partner organizations. This equates to over 2500 service hours! 

Part of why this is so huge is that the Bible tells us that we are created in God’s image and one aspect of that image that we were created to bear is called, Ezer

Ezer means helper—one who comes alongside and gives necessary strength and protection to serve those who lack the strength to protect themselves. 

Over and over throughout scripture, we see God as Ezer for us:

Psalm 30:20: Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.

Psalm 70:5: But I am poor and needy; hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O Lord, do not delay!

Psalm 124:8: Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

Psalm 146:5: Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God.

When God gives the Israelites miraculous victory over the Philistines in 1 Samuel 7, Samuel celebrates by erecting a large stone altar that he names Eben-ezer: Stone of help. It’s a reminder that God is our helper. God comes alongside and serves His people. 

God is a God who serves. It’s a fundamental aspect of His character. Every day, every moment, God is holding creation together; He’s providing for, loving, forgiving, encouraging, and pursuing His rebellious, sinful, broken image bearers. 

Colossians 2 says that Jesus is the image of the invisible God. He perfectly reflects who God is. So it’s no surprise that when Jesus shows up He says. “For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45) 

We were all made in the image of God. We were made to reflect His image. When we serve, we align ourselves with what we were made for. We align ourselves with reality in the universe. We are discovering part of our designed identity. We are reflecting the God who serves: Ezer

Sermon Recap | Redefining Greatness


Mark 9:33-35 and Mark 10:35-45.

In both of these passages, Jesus flips the script and redefines greatness for his disciples and for us:

Mark 9:35: “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”
Mark 10:43-45: “But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be servant of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

We all get caught up trying to prove ourselves, compare ourselves, and show ourselves to be better than those around us. A helpful tool is The Princess Test, a questionnaire that helps reveal areas where we functionally believe we should be treated like royalty, instead of like a servant. 

The Princess Test:

  • I expect life to be smooth and free from burdensome people or problems.
  • I often get angry at people for not treating me right, or not acting a certain way toward me. 
  • I often feel resentful. I feel bitter towards those who have what I want. 
  • I feel annoyed and slighted when I am asked to do menial tasks. 
  • I get frustrated when I don’t receive the thanks or notice from people I think I deserve. 
  • I get upset when I don’t get my way in a group decision. 
  • I am rarely the first one to offer to help out or serve. 
  • I find it hard to recover when I am made fun of or my ego is bruised. 
  • I judge people based on their usefulness or what I think they can add to my life. 
  • I get mad at God when I don’t think He’s making my life go how it should.

The reality is that we are all enslaved to our own pride and our own desire to be great until we see true greatness crucified on the cross. Only when we come to understand that the greatest servant who ever lived poured out His precious blood as a ransom to pay for us, can we begin to have the real, internal confidence that it takes to serve the people around us. 

A huge part of what Serve the City Weekend is about is training us to walk in the new servant greatness identity that Jesus has given us. We are not just spending a weekend doing nice things to feel better about ourselves; we are hoping to foster an ongoing desire to become the servant of all—to love those who have nothing to offer us—to serve those who are hurting, messy, and broken. Because this is exactly what we needed the Son of Man to do for us when we were hurting, messy and broken, and had nothing to offer Him. 

It’s not too late to sign up for our Serve the City Weekend! In fact, several sites are still in need of volunteers! We’d love for you to sign up with our North Main Block Party (kid-friendly and a great Saturday-only option!), Ezekiel (kid-friendly), or Transitions teams. Get all the information you need here

Sermon Recap | "Eliminate negative people from your life."


There is a cultural belief that says you have to eliminate the negative people from your life. So how do we, as God’s people, think about the people that He has put into our lives—specifically the people who tend to be a bit more draining?

We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. - Romans 15:1

The phrase “bear with” means to pick up and carry the weight of the weak. (Check out Mark 2:1-12

Two reasons the strong have an obligation to bear with the weak:

  1. for your own growth
  2. for the growth of the weak 

The key to strong communities is not to avoid the weak, but to embrace them.

Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. - Romans 15:2

Two options for how you approach the people in your life:

  1. People exist to please/serve you. 
  2. People exist for you to please/serve them. 

You are either using people or loving people and what you believe here changes everything about how you go about your life. 

“Eliminate negative people from your life” is rooted in the belief that the people that God has put in your life exist to serve you and if they don’t you need to get rid of them. 

For Christ did not please Himself, but as it is written, “the reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” - Romans 15:3 (Check out Psalm 69)

Jesus did not approach people asking, “What can you do for me?” but instead chose to love people when all they brought was their brokenness and their need. Jesus does not love any of us based on what we bring to the table. At some point, the reality of the nature of our relationship with Jesus soaks in and it directly impacts how we relate to and love the people in our lives. The way we love the weak and difficult people in our own lives is direct evidence of how much we understand the gospel.

We must not grow weary in loving other people, but instead, constantly set our minds on Christ. (Hebrews 12:3)

or whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. - Romans 15:4-7

Together, we have the opportunity to show our community what Christ has shown us. 

Three things that are required in order for us to grow in loving people:

  1. Prayer. Pray for a new heart to actually see this change take place. Pray for the difficult/draining people in your life every day. 
  2. Practice. Go out of your way to meet someone new. Set up a weekly hospitality night. Join us in one of our Serve the City Partnership events.
  3. Patience. You are not immediately going to see fruit, so pray for endurance.