John F. Kennedy was the 35th president of the United States. Prior to his assassination in November 1963, JFK’s Inaugural Address on January 20, 1961 contains one of the most powerful comments ever made by a sitting president. “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” This statement was a request to urge citizens to become active participants in making America a better place to live.
Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen, 1 Peter 4:9-11.
While JFK was a political leader, Jesus developed a spiritual following, curing, hearing and teaching a new philosophy about life. This message included a demonstration of what it means to serve others by laying down his own life. Jesus practiced what he preached, laying down his life by dying on a cross. In modern times, Christians tend to be too me focused, expecting God to show up and do something miraculous. Yet, if believers applied JFK’s challenge to Christianity, prayer lives would be transformed by a mind searching for ways to serve God daily.
Now there are [distinctive] varieties of spiritual gifts [special abilities given by the grace and extraordinary power of the Holy Spirit operating in believers], but it is the same Spirit [who grants them and empowers believers]. 5 And there are [distinctive] varieties of ministries and service, but it is the same Lord [who is served]. 6 And there are [distinctive] ways of working [to accomplish things], but it is the same God who produces all things in all believers [inspiring, energizing, and empowering them]. 7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit [the spiritual illumination and the enabling of the Holy Spirit] for the common good, 1 Corinthians 12:4-7.
In the passage above, the apostle Paul implies that the local church needs your help. Just like the old Uncle Sam posters used to recruit soldiers, Paul urges the church of Rome to take an inventory of the present gifts and talents. When a piece or part is missing, the body of Christ does not function as the Holy Spirit and God desires. Therefore, when you add JFK’s speech to Jesus’ selfless example, volunteers begin to come forward. Instead of 10% of a church body doing 90% of the work, applying spiritual gifts within a congregation fills in the missing parts. Therefore, don’t ask what your country can do for you. Rather, ask God how you can serve your local church and community by praying to God.
by Jay Mankus