Serving others in and out of church is one of the most positive ways to display neighborliness and one of our greatest witnesses to a lost world. When we concentrate on others, it is amazing how most of our troubles lessen in the light of service. We as the church usually talk the Walk, but we too often avoid walking the Talk. One reason the Mormon Church is out evangelizing Protestant churches is that they go far out of their way to serve others. Too many Protestant churches throw money at ministry and call it done. Some churches have most of their ministries performed by paid staff. That is not a New Testament church.
We can no longer walk by a need and expect God to bless us or for our Christian maturity to grow. Serving others was always at the forefront of Jesusâ€™ ministry:
â€œThen Jesus answered and said: â€˜A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, â€œTake care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.â€ So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?â€™ And he said, â€˜He who showed mercy on him.â€™ Then Jesus said to him, â€˜Go and do likewise.â€™â€ (Luke 10:30-37)
Did you notice how this certain lawyer could not even bring himself to answer Jesusâ€™ question directly; he couldnâ€™t even say the Samaritan. We too tend to not answer questions directly. I know it has been nearly ten days since I last wrote a devotional, but in that one titled â€œWhoâ€™s Serving Who? – Enabling Lifeâ€ I finished with a question and an admonition. Here they are again:
If you were a pastor and had come to the point that your people were unwilling to serve in ministries throughout the church, and those ministries were not being filled, what would you do with those ministries?
He who has hears, let him hear…
Apparently of the 191 who receive this devotional, only a retired pastor has ears to hear, or is it that he is not â€œtoo busy.â€ His answer? You have to drop those ministries to the detriment of the cause of Christ because no one will serve and like a dead vine, the vinedresser must prune it away.
â€œI am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.â€ (John 15:5-8)
Beloved, I am not fussing you, just exhorting you. Churches are dying out all across the country because members will not step up and serve. My own church is facing a pruning in the near future if people do not begin stepping up. Oh but Bro Dave, I donâ€™t know what needs to be done and no one has asked me. Have you ever asked? Have you ever offered to serve in any need?
It simply comes down to obeying Jesusâ€™ commands. Paul reminded the Galatian church of this:
â€œFor you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: â€˜You shall love your neighbor as yourself.â€™ But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!â€ (Galatians 5:13-15)
What did the Apostle Paul mean by that last line? Dr. Jimmy Draper, one of my heroes of the conservative resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention, puts it best in his Bible study â€œEvery Christian A Ministerâ€:
â€œWhen church life is measured by the degree to which our needs are being met, we will develop the spirit of resentment, unforgiveness, ingratitude, and backbiting.â€
And then we begin looking more and more like the world and no wonder people avoid going to church.
We are called to service because then we are truly exhibiting Christ.
More on that tomorrow…
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Copyright Â© 2012 David Jeffers