Theres a subtle theological tension inside many American Christians. It arises from the fact that weve been taught to be suspicious of any attempt to provoke us to do good works. So much emphasis has been placed on the truth that we are saved by grace and not by works (Eph 2:8, 9) that we subconsciously view serving God as a dangerous practice which might lure us unwittingly into legalism or self-righteousness. So, we listen to sermon after sermon about how all God wants from us is faith in Christ, not works. To some believers this message actually makes them sad because they passionately desire to serve Him, but are left feeling they must repress that desire in order to stay saved by grace. However, there are churchgoers for whom its just what they hoped to hear because it comforts any sense of guilt they might feel for doing nothing but taking care of their own spiritual lives. Yet, for most of us this tension cant really be over whether or not we are saved by grace, so it must be over the definition of the word works. If doing more than an occasional spontaneous selfless act is works (in a bad sense) then God must want us to merely rest passively until we get to heaven. But if Pauls words were intended simply to warn us against trying to earn Gods favor, then there is nothing to fear from entering into lives of costly service for God.
This weekend our church is focusing on inviting people to this kind of service as well as saying thank you to the many who have given, prayed and served throughout the year. So, as we open the Word today well consider the question, Why do we serve God? and well listen to His answer. After all, Paul also said, We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works (Eph 2:10).
Why would a church:
- Have a ministry fair?
- Send mission teams?
- Raise-up MiniChurches and small groups?
- Organize teams of believers to greet, usher, pray, teach children & youth, care for the hungry, etc.?
- Launch a ministry institute to train future pastors, missionaries, worship leaders, Christian educators and church administrators?
In other words, why would a church have activities designed to encourage its members into service?
1. First of all, its simply our job (Eph 4:11-16)
2. Second, service is the God-ordained destiny of every believer
- 2 Corinthians 5:14-21
- God has lovingly invited us to share in the saving of lost humans, and to do this we must learn to cease living for ourselves (v 15).
3. Third, service is an important way God forms His character in us.
Any form of consistent service of others (inside or outside church) will always teach many of the same lessons. Every person who serves faces the same:
- Painful decisions to ignore their own needs in order to serve others
- Frustration at discovering how immature they are
- Desperate need for Gods power to carry them when they are weak
- Disappointment in discovering the selfishness and brokenness in others
- Need to learn to really pray
- Discovery of the gifts they dont have
- Elation at seeing how God can change peoples hearts
- Growth in faith when they see God produce an amazing amount of fruit through them
4. Fourth, service is best done collectively as a team or by individuals who regularly draw strength by being part of a strong community.
- Gods plan is for us to work together interdependently (1Co 12:4-6, 12, 14, 18)
- He deliberately gives us some gifts and withholds others
- By working side-by-side a capacity for ministry emerges that is far greater than what any one of us could do alone
- This is why we are called the Body of Christ
- Though each of us plays a different part in the ministry, we all share the same reward (1Sa 30:10, 22-25)
- Whether we pray, give or go, we all share in the spiritual rewards of a mission or ministry
5. Fifth, as a church we are responsible to help each member prepare for their conversation with Jesus (2Co 5:10).
- Hell look for good fruit in terms of character, but also in terms of service (Mt 7:16-21)
- Hell want to know how we used the resources He gave us to serve Him (Mt 25:14-29)
- Hell let us know that no act of kindness was too small to go unnoticed (Mk 9:41)
- For whoever gives you a cup of cold water to drink because of your name as followers of Christ, truly I say to you, he will not lose his reward.
- Ultimately, He considers every act of service to be an expression of our love for Him.
- Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me (Mk 9:37)
- Read Matthew 25:34-40
1) Name some of the gifts God has given you that you could use in serving Him. 2) Why is it better to serve God as a team rather than alone? Name some of the ways Christians can help each other serve.