In the Service

 

Your body has 60,000 miles of veins, capillaries and arteries. Put them together end to end and they would wrap around earth nearly three times. But if one small vein around your heart gets blocked you are in a life-threatening situation. Systems like the human body rely on every part doing its function.

This is one reason Jesus chose to call the church His body. Certainly it describes His intimate relationship with us, but it also illustrates the vital necessity of every member doing its part. God saved you so His body could experience the benefit of you being a part of it.

One of the keys to advancing the gospel is for the church to be made up of individuals who consider it their task to do the work of ministry, rather than having a group of people who expect the paid workers to minister to them. In healthy churches every member is a minister.

Every Member A Minister

Peter put it like this, “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10). God’s grace is seen in so many different ways in our lives. His grace is seen in the way we learned the gospel, the experiences we had, the talents and opportunities we were given, and the resources God provided. “Now,” Peter says, “Be faithful to dispense those gifts in a way that serves the body.” We have gifts not to erect our own kingdom but to magnify His.

The early believers did not order their salvation “take out” style to be consumed in the darkness of their living room. Their life had a new priority, not to self, but to the saints. Those freed from the slavery of sin, then became servants of something more meaningful and eternal, the body of Christ (Galatians 5:13).

May we never be content with surface relationships with God’s people. It’s only when every member is a minister that our potential for growth will be realized. Some people envision the church as a pyramid with one person at the top meeting the needs of those below. This limits the effectiveness of the kingdom to the gifts of the few. The church is to be more like a circle where we all minister to each other. You grow, not by adding people to the bottom of the pyramid, but by adding more servants to the circle. When “every part does its share, it causes the growth of the body” (Ephesians 4:16).

In addition, when every member is a minister it enhances the unity of the body. Many people feel isolated from the fellowship. They say, “We’re not close.” “I don’t know anyone.” “I feel so alone here.” The unity of believers is deepened through service. Jesus is our example. He restored our fellowship with the Father by coming in the form of a servant. If we are going to maintain a vibrant, loving fellowship we must first become servants.

Every Leader an Equipper

Even with all the blessings of service it remains difficult to give up our time, pleasures, and money for the body of Christ. Maybe that’s why the New Testament teaches that every leader is to equip the believers to serve. Paul wrote, “He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:11-12).

Some leaders are driven people who want to do all the work themselves so it’s done right, or so they think. Others just find it easier to do the work themselves to escape the effort of recruiting and training. Whether they are driven or lazy they are not doing the work of godly leaders if they are not equipping the saints to do works of service. As a result the church’s potential is limited to what only a few can do, and the spiritual growth of the body stagnates.

Healthy churches have leaders who involve as many members as possible. They recruit new workers and instruct them in what to do. They encourage the workers with words of praise. Leaders do not just ask for volunteers. They find people who can do the task, train them and put them to work.

Moses had his Joshua, Jesus had His disciples, Paul trained Timothy and Titus, and every leader since has the responsibility to train others to do the work.

The possibility of production in the body of Christ is astounding, but people are desperate for leaders who will equip the saints to serve (Neh.1-6).

Every Minister A Lover

The real key to using your gifts in service to God and His people is love. Paul ends the great chapter on Christian service with these words, “Yet I want to show you a more excellent way.” (1 Cor. 12:31). That way is the way of love (1 Cor. 13). If you try to serve without love you will either become disillusioned and give up or become self-centered and do more harm than good. Genuine love for God and people is the real key to service.

Love must come first before the service will be effective. This truth is contained in the most familiar verse in the Bible, “God so loved the world!” that’s where service starts, “that He gave His only Son” (John 3:16). When you start with love no act of service is too great. When you are prompted by love no act of service is more joyful or effective.

So, go ahead and do it. Boost your love level for the imperfect, roughhewn body of believers of which you are a part. Participate in the service with all your might.

Tim Jennings
timj.theway@hotmail.com

“Let all that you do be done in love” (1 Cor. 16:14)


Extra Bit:

Joy of a Servant
S. Fuhrman

I lighten a burden with love,
As part of my Master’s design,
And know in that moment of care:
The joy of a servant is mine!

I serve in a small quiet way,
And glory, my Master, is Thine!
What more can I ask of this day?
The joy of a servant is mine!

To live in Thy service each day,
My strength and my will I resign.
Though I am a child of Thy house,
The joy of a servant is mine!