Tim and Debbie Friesen had a pretty significant moment this week. A first for them. Something I hope all of you will get to experience at least once in your lifetime.
Here it is.
That’s right. Their first trip to In-N-Out Burger.
Tim sent me this picture along with his review. “Great food and service” (Tim was being uncharacteristically succinct with his appraisal).
As it turns out, Tim had a chance to visit with the manager, a 20 year veteran of In-N-Out, who told him that her key to success was in hiring the right people.
That comment reminded me of a conversation I had a few years ago with a owner/manager of another quality fast food restaurant (I won’t say which one, but they’re known for their chicken sandwiches). This young man had been brought into a particular restaurant where sales had been falling. His job was do to a turn around.
I wondered to myself “how do you turn around a business when you have no control over the menu, the location, the pricing, and only limited control over any advertising or promotions?
So I asked the young man “what did you do to turn the business around?”
“We hired new people,” he said. “People who smiled. Who were friendly. Who understood that their job was to serve the customer.”
And it worked. Smiling faces and serving people brought in more repeat customers.
The chicken sandwich people have a name for the kind of service they train their employees to embrace. They call it “second mile service.”
I bet you know where the name for their training program came from. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said “If anyone would sue you to take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles” (Matthew 5:40-41).
Under Roman law, a soldier could require any citizen in an occupied country to carry the soldier’s pack for him. But by law, the soldier could not compel the citizen to carry the pack for more than a mile.
The Jews hated their Roman overlords. They longed to be out from under Roman rule. So the idea of being compelled to carry the pack of a Roman soldier was not just a physical burden. It was a regular reminder that someone else was in charge of your life. You were not free to live as you pleased. You were required to serve even your enemies, whether you liked it or not.
Jesus’ call for His disciples to voluntarily carry the pack of an oppressor an extra mile was a call to a radically different way of thinking about your life. It was a call to see yourself not as the servant of all. “If you want to be great in God’s Kingdom,” Jesus would later say, “you must learn to be the servant of all” (Matthew 20:6).
It’s interesting that a handful of fast food chains have learned that there is economic benefit in this way of thinking. But Jesus wasn’t commanding second mile service for His followers as a strategy for business success. He was teaching us to think about the people around us – people who look or think or act differently than we do – to think of them as valuable and significant.
He was teaching us to see others the way He sees them. And to love them with a love that can only come from a heart that has been transformed by gospel grace.
Second mile service is a whole lot easier to practice when the people we’re serving are friendly, appreciative and likeable. But Jesus’ had enemies, not friends in view in His call to second mile service.
Is there someone in your life today who God would have you go above and beyond in serving? A harsh boss? A family member? Someone who is just hard to love?
Spend some time today reminding yourself that God demonstrated His love for you in the ultimate sacrifice of His Son while you were still His enemy. Let that fact sink in for a few minutes.
And then ask God to give you the grace to sacrificially love and serve someone today. Ask Him what you can do to go the second mile.
I had planned to send you your homework for this week after our worship service was over. Somehow, the time slipped away.
We talked about how foundational God’s word is to our lives as we pray and ask Him for an awakening in His church in our day. Here are some questions to help you reflect on the message.
Got your calendar handy? You might want to grab it. I’ll wait.
Sunday May 13 is Mother’s Day. We’ll also be having baby dedications that morning. If you have a child who has never been dedicated publicly, and you’d like to be included in this time of dedication, you can contact Cathy Crowell at firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the list for that morning.
And finally, on Sunday June 10, we’ll have a baptism service at our traditional location – Tom and Nancy Arnold’s home. If you have never been baptized since you surrendered your life to Jesus, we would love to talk to you about following the Lord and being obedient with this public declaration of your faith. Again, contact Matt Gurney and let him know that you’re interested in being baptized so we can set up a time to meet with you to discuss baptism. email@example.com
Finally, if you’d like to send the Spencer family a thank you email for their service to us last Sunday, you can send your note to firstname.lastname@example.org I’m sure they’d love to hear from any of you who would like to write to them.
We’ll be back in the book of Romans this Sunday (Lord willing), looking at what it means to be a living sacrifice for Jesus.
See you in church.
Soli Deo Gloria!