Spiritual Discipline of Serving in the Church (11-12-16)
1- What is Service?
Service is using your God-given gifts to sacrificially minister to and love others.
→ As a Christian, your service is your ministry! The Greek word for ministry means to attend upon someone.
John 8:34 "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
Service is sacrificial love. Selfishness causes me to only do what is good for me, but selfish love causes me to only help people when, in the end, it is good for me.
Selfless or sacrificial love causes me to love others at a cost to me for their benefit.
John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”
Because we are naturally sinful and selfish, we are only able to love because of God at work in us!
1 John 4:7 “Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God.”
“We love because he first loved us.” - 1 John 4:19
So, the question is: are we sharing the love God has shown us?
This is the life other Christians played out in love for those outside the church and those inside the church.
Over the next two weeks, we will look at what God’s love through us means for those both inside and outside the church. This week, we will focus on those inside the church.
2- Serve those inside the church
What we first must understand is that ministry (serving others in God’s love) is not a rare vocation or a privileged office and therefore includes salesman, pastors, health care workers, moms, managers, educators, cleaners, you name it. In ministry, we employ the 'charismas' or 'spiritual gifts' given to all Christians. They are given by Christ to his body to build up the church & promote unity even though we are a diverse community.
Ministry is about serving. The Greek word means to attend upon someone.
The New Testament words for ministry are words of action and service.
Every Christian is called to serve! One of the major misunderstandings of our current generation is the term “I have been called”. Too often I hear someone say, “I feel like I have been called to go into ministry!”
Now what that person means is that vocationally God is placing it on their heart that they are to do ministry full time… for their vocation or job. But they were already called into ministry. Every believer in Jesus Christ is called to ministry!
1 Peter 4:10-11 “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.”
We are to use our gifts to serve one another. What I want you to see is that serving one another always costs you something.
It costs you time, energy, privacy, comfort, money, and more.
So, the clear question is: how are you doing this? What are you giving up to love and serve your brothers and sisters in the church? Each of us should have something we do to contribute.
In a country club, you pay dues so that you can access the facilities and enjoy the entertainment options provided there. This is much of what the modern church has become- a place of many options and services for people to come and utilize and enjoy and attend. To provide this kind of experience, the church has hired many professional staff members who provide the country clubs many services for the members to enjoy.
But this is not the CHURCH. The church is a group of people saved by the grace of God through the blood of Jesus for the purposes and glory of God. The church is not a country club, but is more like a team. Not one that you come watch, but that you play on. The Bible says every one of God’s redeemed children have been entrusted with a gift. “Each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace,” We are to use the resources and abilities we have been entrusted to SERVE ONE ANOTHER- to play our part on the team and to be a part of the mission God has called us to.
When you decide you are too tired, too busy, too selfish, too lazy to be on the field playing with the team and instead decide to just go into the stands and watch, you need to realize you are not acting like a member of the church, but like the heathens who are watching the church. Those who are desperate for Jesus to change their hearts and privilege them with his effective call to save them and call them into the game.
3- THE CHURCH IS ONE ANOTHER!
Listen to Romans 12: 3-8:
“For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them…”
Paul says, “Let us use them!” Are you using the gifts, the time, the abilities, the resources God has entrusted to you to steward for his purposes and his glory?
Galatians 5:13 “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”
We must understand that God has removed our shackles from sin so that we are not bound to eternal death. Not so we can just run in freedom to whatever we want, but to embrace another life of slavery, a sweet and privileged slavery. Slavery to righteousness.
Romans 6:19 “For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.”
Jesus says it again and again and again and again. All of this teaches that we are saved from hell, but not form the cross. We are to take up our cross and love, and serve, and give our lives away!
4- Every Christian is Needed for Ministry
1 Corinthians 12:4-7 “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.”
There are different kinds of gifts and different kinds of service.
In a consumer culture where the purpose of life is to get your needs met at a cost that is beneficial to you. It’s what makes everything go. Service is putting the needs of others ahead of your own and putting the needs of the community ahead of the individual. On any given Sunday, one of the most important reasons why your attendance is so important is not just for what you will get out of it, but instead what you bring to your church in your presence and your service.
1 Corinthians 12:12-20 & 27 “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.”
Let’s skip down to verse 27, “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”
The most important question is: are you doing your part? Are you committed to not just consuming, but sharing what God has entrusted you with others- serving one another?
I will leave you with a beautiful picture of this from the New Testament church:
Acts 2:44-47 “and all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people.”
May this be a picture of us as we contribute to the family God has adopted us into. May it be our joy to play our part until he takes us home and selfishness and laziness reigns in us no more!