Growing up, I developed a passion for swimming. It instilled in me many values for which I am very thankful, but the greatest of these values is determination. I was determined to work hard and do whatever I was told, in order to have the best possible outcome. I wanted to swim as fast as possible, so I wasn’t going to slack off.
Moving up to D.C. has shown me an entire culture where everyone is extremely driven. People will suck up to whomever they can, in order to achieve the best possible outcome. In this culture, it is very easy to fall into this routine; and on the surface, it doesn’t seem that bad. People are ultimately doing what they’re told and working hard to do the best possible job they can.
In Ephesians 6:5-9, Paul addresses this exact issue. The passage begins in verse 5 with Paul saying “Bondservants, obey your Earthly masters”. This is something, as an athlete, I could get behind. When my coaches told me to do something, I would obey them. Swimmers have to obey their coaches or else they swim poorly or get kicked out of the pool.
Paul then goes into how we are to obey. First he says “With fear and trembling”. Again, this is not a difficult concept to grasp. When my coaches asked me to swim “eight 200s – butterfly”, I definitely obeyed with “fear and trembling”. When people obey their boss at work, it is usually out of fear of being fired, or at least not being promoted. However, the next part of how we are to obey is where it becomes a little more difficult to understand, especially in D.C.
“With a sincere heart”.
Most of us could look at this and say, “well, I sincerely don’t want to get fired, and I sincerely want to set myself up for the most success possible,” but that isn’t what Paul is trying to teach us here. The NIV reads “with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.” This image should generate something more in us than just a craving for success. If Christ came down in all His glory, we would fall flat on our faces and obey anything he said, out of fear, and reverence, and love, and because he is obviously Lord. He served us unto death, and that should motivate us to serve Him and His commandments, until death.
This command is another thing that is not easily grasped. With service comes the almost unavoidable feeling, however small, of discontentment. You’re either serving to look good, or because it’s mandatory, or because you got caught doing something you shouldn’t have been doing. As humans, we don’t love serving others. This is why the Lord has to clarify and tell us to serve as if we are serving the Lord, and not other humans.
I recently accepted a position at Public Affairs at the Federal Reserve, and this position will require a lot of service and submission. I do not know nearly as much as everyone else in the office, and I am well aware of that! I am going to have to be doing some dirty work, helping my boss organize, and in some ways my full-time position will feel reminiscent of my internship. My title is “Public Affairs Assistant”.
This coming year, my calling is to assist —full time. I think this passage will assist me in being able to assist my co-workers. I do not have any reason to believe that my co-workers are Christians, and this may be a great opportunity for me to be able to witness through assistance and service. Many of them are blown away already at my willingness to help and learn when, frankly, I do not feel terribly busy. At times, the Lord puts us in situations that identify and even strengthen our weaknesses. Service is an area where many people could use some training, but my heart especially needs this. One year must not have been enough as an intern, because I have at least another year of being at the bottom of the totem pole, in order to learn how to serve “with a sincere heart, as I would in Christ”.
Lauren Harrington interns in Washington, DC and is a graduate of the 2015-2016 Capital Fellows Program.
Image: freeimages/jason f