Saved People Serve People

October 22, 2017 Speaker: Stuart Strachan Jr Series: In search of church

Topic: The Church Scripture: 1 Corinthians 4:4–4:12

Saved People Serve People

Rev. Stuart Strachan Jr

10/22/17

 

We are going to jump right into our sermon text this morning, which comes to us from 1 Corinthians chapter 12 verses 4-12. I’m also going to read one additional verse, verse 27 as well.

 

1 Corinthians 12:4-12; 27

 

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues,[a] and to still another the interpretation of tongues.[b] 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

 

Well we are wrapping up this series we’ve entitled “In search of church”, not because we are discover the church’s gps coordinates, but because I think, a lot of the conflict we often experience in the church comes from mistaken understandings of what you might call the nature of the church, or the identity of the church.

 

Each of us has in our own head a way of understanding “church” and often because of this, we have diverging opinions on what the “church” is, we find ourselves in disagreement with each other when decisions, or changes are proposed in the church.

 

So one of the things we ought to do when changes are propose, is to ask ourselves, does this go against what the Bible describes as essential to the nature of the church.

 

So what do we know about the nature of the church?

 

Well the first week of our series we contrasted the worship in the Old Testament with the New Testament. We talked about how from the very beginning, the church was not supposed to be a building, but a people, the body of Christ, a people who were called to bear witness to Jesus, the cornerstone of our faith.

 

The second week, we talked about the fact that the church is made up of disciples. That is, people who devote their lives to following Jesus. And this following of Jesus, by its very nature includes reproduction; it includes the call of disciples making more disciples.

 

Last week we did two things, we talked first about muscle memory, that is, that each of us has sort of a default way of seeing the church. But sometimes, in order to be faithful to God’s Word, we have to change some of that muscle memory, some of the ways we “do church”

 

But the problem often is, we have this ingrained muscle memory for how church is meant to be done right?

 

We say, this is how the church ought to be because this is how it’s always been. But what we don’t realize is that most of the things that we believe have always been were actually new themselves, and probably caused outrage when they first came into the church.

 

So for example, many of us think hymns are what the church has always sung. We find supposed support for this in Ephesians 5:19, Paul says “speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord,”

 

But what exactly were these hymns and spiritual songs? Definitely nothing like the music we consider to be hymns and spiritual songs today.

 

In fact, if you’ve ever taken a music history course, I would suppose Glen Utsch has; you would know that music has changed dramatically since the time of the early church.

 

There was no such thing as harmony in music when the early church existed. Do you think people complained when harmonies were incorporated into worship? Yes.

 

What about the complexity of notes that altered significantly from the more simple melodies of hymns in the early church? Yep, that was a point of contention as well.

 

What about singing hymns that were not derived from the Psalms? That would have been considered a shock to the early Reformed churches from which we came.

 

So when changes happen, we have this muscle memory that wants to fight back, we feel uncomfortable for various reasons. But as I mentioned last week, we ought to stick by our Reformed Motto: Once reformed, always reforming according to God’s Word.

 

We take the unchangeable gospel and into the constantly changing culture by being willing to change not the message, but the forms in which the message comes.

 

Today, what I would like to talk to you about is the disposition of those who make up the church, that is, the attitude we ought to take when it comes to life as a church.

 

And we see that attitude, that disposition in our sermon title: “Saved people serve people.”

 

That is, our primary way of relating to each other ought to be shaped and molded by the same self-sacrificing love that Jesus shows us in his life, death, and resurrection.

 

That we who have experienced the love of God, desire to show that same love to others by and through the way we live our lives.

 

And so with the remainder of our time, and yes, I’m aware of the fact that we are about halfway home already, we are going to talk about two aspects of service.

 

The first is for us to see that service is not merely what we do, but how we do it. And secondly, that God has equipped every single person in the church for fruitful ministry.

 

So again, the church ought to be marked by people who not only serve others, but also do it for the right reasons.

 

You know, we’ve all met that person who serves but in such a way that they are a martyr.

 

“I have to go back to so and so’s house and do such and such and I mean, I’m totally happy to do it, but I kinda wish I wasn’t the only one

 

Psalm 100 says “Serve the Lord cheerfully. Come into his presence with a joyful song. Realize that the Lord alone is God. He made us, and we are his.

 

It does not say, “Serve the Lord with reluctance and become bitter when others don’t help out as much as you wish they would.”

 

Here’s one more way it’s important in how we serve and not just that we serve: that we don’t bring our agendas with us.

 

We see this when people begin serving the church and what’s really happening is that they are saying to themselves, “yeah I’ll help the church out, but only if I can do it my way.”

 

Now that’s not to say that when you serve, you shouldn’t have input, but far too often people come into a ministry area with an agenda, and they are not willing to work with others when their ways vary from that of others.

 

In Colossians 3:17, Paul encourages the church that in whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

 

So whenever we find ourselves at odds with others in the church, we need to ask, is this God’s will, or my preferences, and if it is my preference, am I willing to give that to God as a sign of my faithful service to Him.

 

As we close this section on service done faithfully, I’d like to read a quote by Richard Foster, comparing what he refers to as Self-Righteous Service vs. True Service.

 

“Self-righteous service comes through human effort. True service comes from a relationship with the divine Other deep inside.


Self-righteous service is impressed with the "big deal." True service finds it almost impossible to distinguish the small from the large service.


Self-righteous service requires external rewards. True service rests contented in hiddenness.


Self-righteous service is highly concerned about results. True service is free of the need to calculate results.


Self-righteous service is affected by moods and whims. True service ministers simply and faithfully because there is a need.


Self-righteous service is temporary. True service is a life-style.
Self-righteous service fractures community. True service, on the other hand, builds community.”

 

True service, on the other hand, builds community.” That’s exactly what Paul is trying to teach the Corinthians in our sermon text. God gives a diversity of gifts, but the point is that, like a body, that diversity builds into one body.

 

Let’s look again at a few verses from our text:

 

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

 

What is Paul saying? Yes, God gives us different gifts, but each of them is to be used to serve the whole body. And when that works well, there is nothing more beautiful than a body working together towards a common goal.

 

And this brings me to my last point, which is that God has equipped each of us to do ministry. Paul himself says in verse 27:

 

“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”

 

Notice he doesn’t just say the pastor has a part, nor the elders or the deacons, but all of us are called to find some way we can serve Jesus in the church and in the world.

 

In other words, every person has a part to play in this church.

 

Now I don’t want to put anyone on the spot, but one of the things I’ve heard more than a few times here is this, “I’m too old to lead this ministry”, “I don’t think anyone would want my help”.

 

But you know what, there’s no such thing as retirement in the Bible. There’s certainly the truth that at times we can be more or less time committed to ministry in the church, but there isn’t a point when we say, “all right God, I’ve given you my 30 years, I’m hanging it up and taking my pension”.

 

This point was brought home to me a few weeks ago while we were planning the Rock the Grove event. After one of our meetings I got to meet Sarah Bowen, the director of the Alpha Omega Crisis Pregnancy Center. She started telling me about this prayer and encourgement ministry that supports every worker at Alpha Omega.

 

These women are led by a woman Sarah describes as barely able to walk, but who touches base regularly with her Alpha Omega employee for encouragement and prayer. One of the other volunteers she mentioned was 99 years old.

 

The ministry of encouragement and prayer has been vital for these workers who find themselves dealing with some very dark situations in a crisis preganancy center, and what it shows is that no matter the age, each and every one of us has a part to play in the body of Christ.

 

So if you don’t have an area of service in this church, where might God be calling you? Where might God be nudging you to take a leap? My hope is that we will get to a place at Tower where every single person, can say God has given me an area of ministry, an area to serve with the love of Jesus.

 

So as we close our time together this morning, I want to remind you that the church is not a building, but the people, where the Holy Spirit is building us up into this beautiful temple where the very presence of God is in and among us.

 

And we are his followers, the disciples who in our following of Jesus make more disciples. We go after the lost and finally we are given ministry, service, which is done out of the love and gratitude of Jesus Christ.

 

Let us pray.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More in In search of church

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Locating the Lost

October 8, 2017

The Art of Followship

October 1, 2017

The church is a body (and it's beautiful)