Throughout many parts of the Western world, we often talk about Christianity in the personal context of Jesus and me. However, I believe God’s word calls us to go beyond the framework of personal relationship in favor of shared relationship. Taken a step further, the limited focus on Jesus and me gives way to a greater shared focus on Jesus and we—we as a church family and we as the body of Christ. This week, I want to spotlight a few value statements from our Increase series that God has called our church to embody this year.
1) We are not spiritual consumers; we are spiritual contributors. The church does not exist for us but we are the church and we exist for the world.
Depth and degree aside, it’s safe to say we live in a society governed by consumerism. Whether it’s the made-to-order operations at a local fast food establishment or the custom colorway on a favorite shoe—our needs and our wants are the center of attention. Jesus, however, maintained and embodied a vastly different stance in John 4 where He states, “The food that keeps Me going is that I do the will of the One who sent Me, finishing the work He started” (John 4:34, MSG). In the midst of the disciple’s preoccupation with consumption, Jesus establishes a higher purpose and higher calling fueled by spiritual contribution. Jesus’ words stand in stark contrast to who we were—in our old nature under the Moses administration—and confirmed who we are as New Covenant participants in God’s divine and generous nature. Believer, our lives are now hidden in Christ and our minds must be steadily renewed to the truth that—in Christ—we are spiritual contributors called to serve IN His church and AS His church. I’ll expound on this statement in greater detail below.
2) God calls you to serve IN His church.
For starters, God never intended the church to solely consist of beautiful structures with great design. He intended the church to consist of the wonderfully made people blueprinted in His design. As believers, we don’t simply go to church; we are the church, ripe with gifts and destined to impact the world. Romans 12:6-8 states, “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.” Your gifts matter to God and He desires that you use them in great measure to declare and demonstrate the Gospel inHis church and to the world!
3) God calls you to serve AS His church.
Matthew 5:14-16 states, “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” The light we possess as believers should shine so others can see that we are cut from a different Rock. Along this line, it is important to distinguish that we’re not saved by good works; we’re saved for good works. Martin Luther put it best in his distinction between passive and active righteousness. He asserted that our righteousness before God—passively and vertically—is received and defined by faith. It’s what makes us right before God—fully and finally. Our righteousness before one another—actively and horizontally—is continual and defined by service. This righteousness serves the well-being of creation and culture by loving and serving our neighbors through our works. When summed up, passive righteousness reveals that God doesn’t need our works but active righteousness reveals that our neighbors do! The aim and direction of our good works as His church are not vertical but horizontal in nature. While many people serve to please God—the freeing revelation as New Covenant believers—is that we serve because we are entirely pleasing to God!