There are many good reasons to serve, both in the church and in the community.
One is to give something back in gratitude for all that Jesus Christ has given us – His grace, His forgiveness, His love and His promise of eternal life. Having been given much, gratitude compels us to give much back to Christ by giving much in service to others.
Another is the compelling of our giftedness. We are gifted to serve. God has deposited natural talents and abilities, along with spiritual gifts, into our lives for the purpose of making Himself known to the world through our lives of love, sacrifice and service. The apostle Paul says it this way:
We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. (Romans 12:6-8 NIV)
To be given these gifts and hold them to ourselves without using them to serve God and others is a crime against the One who gave the gifts. It is squandering what has been invested into our lives. We were created for good works in Christ!
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:8-10 NIV)
Did you catch that? We are saved by grace through faith as a gift from God. It is not by works, so none of us has the right to boast about being all that. And we are God’s handiwork – His masterpiece – created in Christ Jesus to do good works. Our good works do not save us. They do not buy our ticket to heaven. That is given as a gift by the redeeming work of Jesus Christ, dying on the cross in our place. Yet we are created (re-created – made new) in Jesus Christ for good works. We are being made to be like Jesus, who took towel and basin and served His disciples by washing their feet, and then told them (and us) to follow His example and to serve by washing others’ feet.
This may seem like a shocker, but I fully believe it is true:
You can serve without being a real Christian. But you cannot be a real Christian without serving.
You cannot be Christlike and only come to church and sit and consume God’s blessings. That makes worship entertainment. That makes church a spiritual Beef and Boards, where you come to be fed and entertained. And that is certainly not the New Testament vision of what following Jesus is meant to be. No, to be Christlike is to serve. There’s no getting around it.
So I have to ask myself: What are my gifts and how am I using them to serve others? If I am in Christ – and I am by having given my life to Him – then I am created for good works. What are they? How is the Holy Spirit using my life to bless and to serve others?
And if I have trouble identifying these basic evidences of faith in Jesus Christ, do I really have faith in Him? Ouch. Stepping on my own toes over here…
Here is the good news: our church and our community offer ample opportunities to serve, whatever our gifting. So to become more Christlike, a simple step forward is to find a place to serve, and jump in! Today at Gathering Point Church we are holding a little ministry fair, featuring four of our most basic areas of ministry and offering the opportunity for all of us to find a place to serve. We’re hearing from the leaders of our children’s ministry, our student ministry, our single mom ministry and our hospitality ministry.
I believe every one of us in the body of Christ can find a place to thrive in service in one of these four ministry areas. You can be awkward and uncomfortable around little children, but know computers, and help in our GP Kids ministry by running technology, for instance. You can have little confidence in Bible knowledge and ability to teach, but come the first Wednesday of each month and simply play with children in the gym while their mothers are being ministered to in our SOBA single mom ministry. You can be horrible at repairs and maintenance (my hand is up) but find your place in working in the coffee shop on Sundays. You get the picture…
So if you are sitting on the sidelines watching church happen, I want to invite you to take a major step forward in your faith in Jesus Christ. Find a ministry, and begin to serve. I promise, you will receive blessings you did not know were out there. And some day, you will hear Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Master.”