We’re in a new series called “Foundations” which builds off of Jesus’ metaphor in Matt 7: “A house built on sand will never be able to stand BUT a house that’s built on the rock will never be able to fall.”
This week, we’re in Practice #5: Serve with Time & Talents. Set aside 15 minutes with us to explore what and why disciples of Jesus are called to serve. Today, we’ll begin exploring a theology of service from the New Testament.
The Greek term “diakoneo” (see description here) means to “minister, serve, provide for, care for, attend to” and is the root of the English word “deacon.” It’s used regularly throughout the New Testament as is a pattern established by Jesus for His disciples to follow (see Mark 10:35-45). The mandate to serve one another has two main sources: (1) the call to be like Jesus, and (2) the reality of the living organism known as “the church.”
First, we serve because we are called to imitate Jesus and to model our lives after His. Paul says this to the church at Corinth: “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ” (1 Cor 11:1). The book of Romans promises us that the work of the Holy Spirit is to produce Christlikeness so that we are “conformed to the image of his Son” (8:29). This language of image hearkens back to Genesis 1 where we learn that humankind has been made in the image of God. In Christ, the image of God is being restored in us - moment by moment, day by day.
To what are we being restored? Well, Jesus was, above all, a servant. He served God and he served others. No task was beneath Him and no person was overlook-able. Jesus’ goal was to show the world who the Father is - a God who sees and loves with ferocity. And our goal is to be the same kind of image-bearer, one who reflects the heart of God to the world through sacrificial service. Some questions to consider:
- Are you like Jesus in this respect? How is serving others a regular part of your day? How is God calling you to serve in a new or different way? Are any tasks beneath you?
- Christlikeness involves participation with the Holy Spirit - submitting to His work in and through us. Would you say that you are participating with the Holy Spirit’s work in you? How or how not? What would it look like for you to “walk by the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16-26)?
Second, we serve because of the reality of the New Testament entity known as “the church.” In Ephesians, the apostle Paul discusses the mystery of the church: “This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (Eph 3:6). Previously, God worked through the NATION of Israel. Now He is at work in the church, which is a living organism, a BODY composed of men and women from every background who know and follow Jesus. By its very nature, a body is a composition of interconnected parts - parts which must work together or “serve” one another in order to be healthy. We serve one another because we now belong to one another. Some questions to consider:
- What benefit would come from regularly reminding yourself that you are one small part of the body of Christ (the church)?
- How does service go hand-in-hand with being part of an entity like the church?
- According to Ephesians 4, what is the ultimate goal of our service to and with one another?
Let’s pray: “God, you are the holy Creator of the universe. You made me in your image so that I would work to cultivate your creation. You called me to love you and serve you with all that I am and all that I have. Let me see the call to serve as a call to worship you - to use my body, mind, and strength to honor you. Help me to freely serve you with my time and my talents, all to the glory of your Name. Amen.”
Published on 10-26-2021 @ 4:30 AM CDT