Tag Archives: service

Get Well and Work!–Mark 1:31

So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.

As I read today’s verse, I’m sitting in my office in a secular college, surrounded by a host of feminists, many of whom I consider friends. Still, I wonder how they might spin this healing to conform to their ideology. “Obviously Jesus only healed Peter’s mother-in-law to preserve the patriarchal hierarchy and put her in her place as servant rather than served.” Of course, the reason that Mark records that reaction of Peter’s mother-in-law is to provide evidence of the healing. This was not some healing in the mind–“Yes, I do believe I’m feeling better.” Jesus healed this woman so thoroughly that she could hop up and start handing out whatever one handed out to house guests in the first century.

On the other hand, as the father of three daughters, I don’t want to be seen as perpetuating the gender roles in place during Jesus’ day. I’m perfectly comfortable with women playing a broader role in our society than simply staying in the house except to run down to the well and hoss water back on their shoulders.

The real message in this healing, I believe, has little to do with gender roles, feminism, or anything that Gloria Steinem might have advocated or resisted. Instead, I’d like to draw our attention to the response of Peter’s mother-in-law to  the blessings of God’s Son. Lying there, burning up with fever, she was physically delivered by the touch of his hand. And her response? She got straight to work serving Jesus and his followers.

Many years ago, I was healed from a much more serious illness, one that would result not in physical death but in spiritual death. Christ touched me, through no real actions of my own, and healed me of the curse of sin. I’d love to say that I immediately jumped out of my illness and got to work serving him, but that would be an exaggeration. My gratitude, while always present, has not always been at the front of my mind. My ministry, while never closing down, has not always been as selfless and dedicated as it should be.

Imagine what the Christian church could look like if ever redeemed person, got up and starting serving the cause of Jesus with the enthusiasm and energy that we imagine this lady showing. We’d be overflowing with home visits and evangelism activities. Classes would never lack for teachers. Budgets would never lack for dollars.

We don’t know anything more about this woman than what Mark tells us here. Perhaps her enthusiasm waned. Perhaps she rolled her eyes when Jesus and the boys strolled into the house in the future. Really, that doesn’t matter to us. Our fever has been cured. We should jump up and serve.


Immediate Missions–Mark 1:29-30

As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her.

When my pastor has the good sense to wrap up his sermon at a decent hour, I can avoid bolting out of the building like the anti-social person I really am and still make it to my favorite restaurant before the masses fill the place. There, I can share the morning’s gossip with my family before shuttling home to see how badly the Chiefs are being beaten. Once the ball game is over, I’ll lounge about the house for a few hours. If I have to go back to church for some meeting or other, I’ll do that, but often I get to relax my way all the way to bedtime. Sundays are marvelous.

That being said, I have to confess that today’s scripture makes me feel a bit uncomfortable. It seems that Jesus, upon leaving the synagogue, did not head for Cracker Barrel. He didn’t even care who was winning the football game. No, Jesus, “As soon as” he left the synagogue took himself to the mission field. And when did the two pairs of brothers mention the illness of Peter’s mother-in-law? “Immediately.”

How often do we walk out of church and then allow the world’s demands to sweep us away from the things that we should do. We get swept into the ads for flashy electronics or the latest movie-of-the-decade. We watch the Chiefs lose or the rest of the family snooze. Back in the pews, we had great intentions to visit the afflicted and pray like crazy, but once we arrive home, things…change.

The point of a worship service is not to give us our religion fix, to fill us up like we do our car at the gas pump. Or maybe it is. Maybe we worship together in order to be able to drive off and actually go somewhere for God. You’d never consider filling up with unleaded on Sunday afternoon and then pulling away from the pump and leaving the car idling until the gas gauge read “E,” would you? That would be pointless and wasteful.

How much more pointless and wasteful is it to “fuel up” on Sunday morning only to idle away our time through the week. Instead, let’s leave church and launch into mission–immediately.