Saved to serve
God made the world beautiful and good (Gen 1-2). There was no sin, so there were no pain, sorrow, or death. God made man upright, but he sought out many inventions (Ecc 7:29). The word inventions here does not mean devices to help man be more productive or efficient. It means mental machinations or devices. It means God made man to be righteous, but he learned how to play mental gymnastics to create ways to evade the word, will, and ways of God and even his own conscience. Words with similar meanings are translated inventions in a negative way in other places as well (Ps 99:8, Ps 106:29 & 39, Prov 8:12). That good world was lost when Adam and Eve sinned (Gen 3). God did not make evil in the world. Man did that. Yet someday God will restore what was lost by of the blood of Jesus (Rev 22:1-2).
It did not take man long to descend into such a state of depravity that it forced the judgment and justice of the loving God. He sent a flood to cover the earth and destroy everything He had made good in the beginning (Gen 6). Yet even then He showed great love and mercy toward His creation which had so violently revolted against their holy Creator. He found a righteous man named Noah through which He would provide a means of restoration. Noah built an ark in which His family of eight and two of each kind of land animal would be saved to repopulate the earth. This is symbolic of water baptism (1Pet 3:20-21).
There were two of each kind of unclean animal, and seven of every clean kind aboard the ark (Gen 7:2). God miraculously and mercifully saved them from the flood. This shows God’s love and care for all of His creation. Yet the first thing Noah did after he left the ark was to take from the clean animals, build an altar, and sacrifice some of them to God (Gen 8:18-22). The sacrifice smelled like a sweet incense to God. It pleased Him so much that He made promises to all of creation on the earth from that time forward. He promised to never again curse the ground nor destroy all of life. He made a covenant with all of creation and sealed it with a rainbow (Gen 9). Those animals that had just been spared from the judgment of the flood were immediately killed on an altar as a sacrifice to God.
Shortly after Jesus began to minister after His baptism, He went to the house of Peter the apostle where Peter’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever (Lk 4:38-39). He healed her, and she immediately arose from her sick bed and began to serve the people there. After Jesus made one of his trips across the Sea of Galilee, he arrived at a place called Gadara where was a demon-possessed man (Mk 5:1-20). After Jesus cast the many demons out of the man and he was restored to a normal mental state, he asked Jesus to let him stay with Him. Jesus declined, but instead told him to go back to his city and declare what God had done for him. He did, and his testimony evangelized ten cities and prepared the way for future miracles (Mk 7:31-37).
Paul was not one of the original twelve disciples. In fact, he was a avid enemy of the church at first (Acts 7-9). The Lord met Paul as he was on his way to Damascus to persecute Christians there. Paul was saved, and he immediately began to preach the gospel. He later became the apostle who evangelized what we not call eastern Europe, starting many churches, and writing 14 of 27 books in the New Testament.
We were all under the curse of sin (Rom 3:23). The punishment for sin is hell (Rom 6:23, Rev 20:11-15). Jesus came and died for us so we could be saved (Jn 3:16). When God forgives us and cleanses us from our sins, it is not so He can place us in some trophy case on display. It is not so we can just attend gatherings of the church. We are saved to serve. One of the reasons some people do not stay in the church long is because they do not get involved. Obviously, there must be a season of establishing, learning, and growing before someone can enter a leadership position, but there is something for everyone to do in the body of Christ (Rom 12, 1Cor 12). Christianity is based on service (Mt 20:26-28). Jesus said His meat was to do the will of God and finish His work (Jn 4:31-34). There were those in the early church who addicted themselves to the ministry (1Cor 16:15). That is far better than being addicted to the things of this life. God is not looking for some fancy vessels to use. He is not impressed by spiritual curio cabinets full of fine china, silver, and linens that never get used. He is much more interested in those old, scratched up, dull, and worn instruments that actually get used all the time. They may not seem to be of great value to the world, but they are the ones that get used all the time and provide service over and over. We are saved to serve.