The prince should think: Christ has served me and made everything to follow him; therefore, I should also serve my neighbor, protect him and everything that belongs to him. That is why God has given me this office, and I have it that I might serve him. That would be a good prince and ruler. When a prince sees his neighbor oppressed, he should think: That concerns me! I must protect and shield my neighbor…the same is true for shoemaker, tailor, scribe, or reader. If he is a Christian tailor, he will say: I make these clothes because God has bidden me do so, so that I can help and serve my neighbor. When a Christian does not serve the other, God is not present; that is not Christian living.
Alleluia! Christ is Risen! This is the cry from church buildings on Easter Morning! This is salvation, triumph over death and the grave. This is the conquering of our sins and of the enemy. This is the death of death. Alleluia, indeed! Now what? Now we have hope for eternity, but what about today? If Jesus saves us, what are we to do? Nothing? Yes, nothing. There is nothing more to do. It has all been done. Now we simply live this life. Isn’t that freeing news? There is no pressure, no plan of action, no expectations. Since you don’t have to do anything… what do you want to do? Do you have any desire to live the best life you can? Do you yearn for the peace that God delivers by the truckload? Do you have any desire to live the “Christian life?”
What is the “Christian life?” According to Luther’s 1522 sermon, Christian living is serving the neighbor. Jesus has already met your needs (i.e. salvation), so living in Christ is serving the neighbor. How do we do that? Who is my “neighbor” and what does “serving” look like? My “neighbor” is anyone around me, everyone I see, and the people across the globe in need. That’s inclusive. That’s everyone. The more difficult question is, ‘what is serving?’ Anything that takes of you and is given for ‘the other,’ is serving. Maybe this is time, talent, help, a bowl of soup, a ride to church or the doctor or the store, financial support, a smile, holding a door, driving slower so someone can change lanes in front of you…. This too is an inexhaustible list. It even sounds exhausting! When would you have time to do your job if your only focus was on serving others? Luther said, “If he is a Christian tailor, he will say: I make these clothes because God has bidden me do so, so that I can earn a living, so that I can help and serve my neighbor.” Service happens individually and in groups, through churches and organizations, service happens in the community and in your neighborhood. It happens when you go to work and do your job well. It happens as you go through your day. It becomes who you are. It becomes Who you are because of Whose you are. It happens precisely because God is present and he is changing your heart, your focus and your living.
Go in peace and serve the Lord!