Shirts or Skins?

In my previous post I mentioned that God is conforming us more and more to the image of his Son.  It is pleasing to God when we become more like Christ not only in our thoughts, but also in our actions.  This post is dedicated to gleaning three counterintuitive yet precious principles from a few Scriptures in order to help us think about Christian mission and service. 

1. To save is to lose but to lose is to save.

Mark 8:35-36 – For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 

If this verse doesn’t cause you a bit of alarm, maybe you should read it again.  Jesus tells us it is extremely foolish to make life here and now as comfortable and pleasurable (in a worldly sense) as possible.  In what ways you are seeking to “save” your life now?  Are you scheduling the easiest classes possible or pursuing a major because it is the path of least resistance?  Have you bought into the lie that you are off the hook from giving financially in college?  I want to be empathetic to those in extremely hard financial situations, but also want to point out the temptation to use the “I’m a poor college student” line as a cop-out (see Mark 12:41-44).

 2. The way up is the way down.

Matthew 20:26-28 – whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave (a.k.a. bondservant), even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

This principle is rooted in the life of Jesus.  Rather than be served, he came to serve.  Becoming more and more like Jesus means being more and more willing to serve.  Where is God calling you to serve?  Is it one day being a small group leader in Veritas, serving with Granny’s house, volunteering at an animal shelter, getting involved in a student organization like Sustain Mizzou or Stripes?  Do you need to tone down your ambition to be a leader and be content with where you are in order to learn from others and/or learn patience and contentment in God?

 3. The “way up” will one day come “way down”.

Revelation 21:2-3 – And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God…And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man.  He will dwell with them, and they will be his people…”

God has ordered the world in such a way that our service becomes the vehicle to the accomplishment of his ultimate mission – God dwelling with his people on a sin-free earth.

Kermit said it best in one of his talks, “Service is not a shirt we can take on and off, it’s our skin.”  If you call yourself a Christian, service is not optional.  However, with this command comes opportunity (counterintuitive again!).  When we live out His call to lose our lives and become servants, we will experience more joy and satisfaction than if we save our lives and demand service.  But don’t just take my word for it, try on the skin for yourself.


About austinpconner

I am originally from St. Louis, MO, and graduated from MU in 2007 and have been on staff with Veritas for almost 4 years. In addition to being on staff, I am a full time student at Covenant Seminary in St. Louis. One more minor detail: my wife Polly and I had our first child last June - Adelyn Grace Conner.
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