That’s the battle I experience when I’m asked to serve . . . my me-first heart wars against the you-first heart that God’s Spirit is working to form in me (Galatians 5:16). But it’s a battle the Spirit is destined to win because it’s a battle for the glory of God, a battle for the worship of the true and living God (Isaiah 42:8). The reason my flesh hates to serve is because serving exposes my idols of convenience and comfort. Serving empties me of myself so that I might be filled to overflow with the strength of head, heart, and hands that only Jesus possesses but shares with me. My flesh hates to serve because it hates to give up its own glory, it loves self-worship.
The battle I fight may also be the battle that will keep you from reading Nate Palmer’s Servanthood as Worship: The Privilege of Life in the Local Church. For people like me who don’t like serving, the title of this book might be as inviting as a book called Flossing as a Way of Life might be to people who hate to floss their teeth (I confess that I’m one of those too). A bold title indeed, but Palmer knows something about God’s people that we tend to forget: we are made to serve because we are made to “glorify God and magnify the gospel to the benefit of others” (page 12). The true hearts of those who have been made new creations by the power of the gospel and the Spirit will be drawn to this topic because they know that since Christ has served them with His life they are compelled to serve Him with theirs (2 Corinthians 5:14-15; Ephesians 2:10).
This is an important book. Here are a few reasons why I’m thrilled to recommend it to you:
- Palmer has served the Church well by packing a rich biblical theology of service into a small package. He draws from a wealth of Scripture, sound doctrine, and the writings of past and present Bible-soaked teachers to inform our heads, inspire our hearts, and incline our hands to serve.
- Palmer focuses on the local church as the context for Christian service. In an age where we are tempted to be consumer Christians who shop around to find the church that “fits us” and “meets our needs,” this book reminds us that we are to focus on how God would use us to build up the body of Christ, not on “what’s in it for me.” As one who is employed by a church, I, too, needed my own attitude adjusted by this gospel-soaked call to service.
- Palmer avoids using “shoulds” and “ought tos” to motivate us to serve. He keeps the focus on Jesus as He is offered to us in the gospel, the One who “came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). This book is about Gospel-driven, not guilt-driven service. A friend of mine often says “If you want the fruit of redemption, preach redemption.” Service to God and others is a fruit of redemption, and so Palmer preaches redemption on every page.
CruciformPress is proving to be a trustworthy source for gospel-centered reading that serves the body of Christ well. This book is quite different than the first two releases, but it holds true to its publisher’s aim to offer resources that are “Short. Clear. Concise. Helpful. Inspiring. Gospel-focused.”
Thank you Nate and CruciformPress for your service to Christ and us.
UPDATE: You can interact with Nate Palmer about his book at www.servanthoodasworship.com.