Saved To Serve
Saved to Serve 2 Cor 2:14, Eph 2:10
In the ancient world when a king captured a city he would take out all the precious items and process them back to his capitol with slaves coming along behind. The people he had captured would serve his people and so become an asset to his kingdom. This idea is developed by Paul regarding the gospel (2 Cor 2:14).
Jesus Christ has set us free to serve
What we are saved from, what we are saved by, what we are saved for.
What we are saved from (Eph 2:1-3)
The Bible does not paint the prettiest of pictures of fallen human life.
We are dead! But people seem so alive. Not to God.
We are enslaved! We drifted along the stream of the worlds idea of living. (JBP)
We are condemned!
If any saw the documentary on life in Wandsworth Prison where staff are overstretched, drugs are easily available and violence is rife. It paints a terrible picture. But Paul uses similar imagery for everyone. We disobeyed, denied and dismissed God and went our own way. We were enemies of God, serving ourselves and living without God.
Paul says we are in a grave, in a prison and in enslaved.
Our iniquities have made a separation between you and your God,
and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear. (Isa 59:2).
How God Saved Us v 4-9
God is powerful and holy and could destroy us as a potter discards clay that goes out of shape on the wheel. No one is saved because they deserve it. God could have easily and justly written off his creation, but he has not done so. Instead he has done the exact opposite of what we might expect. But God (v 4). The Father loved us, Christ came down to us. He loved us and came after us by sending his Son, Jesus Christ. Why would he do this? Grace Grace Grace. Mercy. Undeserved. Amazing love. Freely you gave it all for us, surrendered your life upon the Cross. Greater love has no man than this.
Why he has saved us (v 10)
Now he has not saved us primarily to be workers as if he needed help. He has not some ulterior motive in loving us, like cupboard love. Ie to get us to do something. Not at all.
When we say we are saved o serve it is in precisely this way that we find the greatest fulfilment. When God saves people from their sin it is with the aim that they will serve his purposes, and that is where we are the happiest for ever. We want to be with him. We want to gaze on his beauty and we want others to see this love and glory and grace too. O that all people on earth should know our God.
Our works of service are borne of love – Unlike helpless captives at the mercy of a brutal army, we are captivated by the immense love of Jesus Christ and welcomed into his family. Now we can take on the family likeness and Jesus was the servant par excellence! The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). He descended to our level at the incarnation –The eternal Son of God became a human being. He came on conquest, not with armies and weapons but unarmed and alone. He came not as an enemy but as a friend. He came not to destroy but to save and to save through his own suffering. He came not to force us back but to draw us by his love and to transform us into the kind of people we were originally intended to be. He came and won the battle for our salvation at the cross and ascended into heaven, his triumph was witnessed by the angels and principalities and powers. By his blood he had redeemed people from their sin. Now came to moment of realisation. What would he do with his people? The answer was not to take them to his heavenly city, but to release them on earth to reach out to others with the message of truth and love, that they too may come to share in this great salvation.
Serve the Lord with gladness. (Psa 100:2) Jesus gave his life for our salvation and his future joy (Heb 12:2). So we can give our lives in service for others and for the joy set before us. Bill Hybels, founder of Willow Creek, tells how as a young student his outlook on life was transformed by a college professor who shattered his ideas of how to gain fulfilment. “True fulfilment will never come though self gratification. Self gratification can never lead to the fullness of life you are looking for, rather it produces emptiness and self destruction.” The way to the top is to serve! We gain life by losing it. We are called to a life of faith, a lifestyle not everyone gets or understands, or desires. Jesus was other people focused. Some are constantly looking inside to try to put things right, analysing, seeking counsel and therapy. Sometimes this is necessary, but often the best remedy is to look out and serve others. Forgetting about yourself and serving others may do some real good.
Serve within the body – That the body of Christ may be built up” (Eph 4 v12) The church is to grow in quantity and quality. “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” (Gal 6:10) This may be spontaneous and individual, but most of us probably need to be in a place doing something to have regular and deeper impact.
Every member a minister Is this for everyone or for the specialists? Apostles and other ministries are not to do the job for the church but to equip others for ministry. Eph 4:7, 16 “But grace was given to each one of us… We are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” Specific ministries are not there to do the work for others but to help us all get the job done (v 11f). “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry.” So God’s plan is to have a people who are prepared and ready to bring help and healing to a broken world. He has not captured us to be imprisoned. He has not won us to be fruitless, but to serve. (John 15:16) In this passage God tells us we are released for “the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.” (v12)
We are all priests in the body of Christ. Everyone has a contribution to make (1 Cor 12:6). With over 15 different groups operating let’s all give ourselves to something. When we look today at the many opportunities to get involved with church life we see this is for everyone and anyone! It is not only for the evidently gifted. Within the body there is love, acceptance and security so that everyone can play a part. This is an ideal environment for trying something new. Experiment. Take a risk. Try something new If it doesn’t suit, try something else.
Doing things together that people enjoy which blesses the church and community is what serving is all about. At Beulah we have always tried to let projects develop as people have been stirred and gifted to take them on. Social action work like Bridge and Bouncers emerged from the grassroots, people wanting to make a difference to the lives of others and then opening a door for others to come along and join them. Natural passion and spiritual inclination can work together in great harmony. What passions have you that could be put to use in this place? Natural and spiritual gifts are both valued in this community. It may be gardening or carpentry, counselling or leadership, writing or computer skills, administration or evangelism, or something no one else would think of! Radika stirred us about signing. Praise God” Sometimes people think, “I really would like to do a certain thing but the church is not doing that! Maybe, if you think like that, you are the very person to kick things off. Ask people to join you and develop of plan or get behind people already involved in similar work and maybe it will grow and develop over time.
Serve for the poor – “Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.” (Gal 2:10). This has become a key value our church and churches. In London we are surrounded by needy people seeking love and friendship and different kinds of challenges in life. Our ministry is to reach out and serve.
Is serving for life or until retirement? I sometimes feel the pressure of leadership gets on top of me and dream of life in the late 60s, but retirement will not be service free. Did you know that men who volunteer live 2 1/ 2 times longer after retirement than those who don’t? Serving may extend your life, but it will definitely enrich it!
Here and there – our ministry may be local or wider. We are developing our relationship with churches in Israel, India, Lesotho, Ghana, South Africa and there are great opportunities to get involved in the wider Regions Beyond.
Serve for the unbelieving community – one of the new enterprises we have taken up is the tea coffee. Seeking God for people and seeking people for God. Listening to the Lord and looking for the people he has spoken to us about. Leon has led the way and I want to encourage us to pray and step out to see what God will do.
Our community Christmas event will run again this year and we are all ready to sign people up. Again we demonstrate the role local people from all ages and walks of life can play to create something wonderful and to show the world how the church is a force for good, and also fulfilled his promise to send the Messiah, Jesus.
Make your ambition to serve more than to be served
Some people could listen to a message like this and say, this is my sort of church. I will get all my needs met here. You will be missing the whole point and heading for deep disappointment. We give everything because that what Jesus did. We are his servants and yet..
Serve for great reward – There is great reward in serving. True serving can be hard work. True sometimes we do get a buzz out of people’s thanks and appreciation, but ideally Christian service is unto the Lord and he will reward us. Christian service is ultimately for the Lord, motivated by his great love for us and for others we are prepared to give of our time and energy, gifting and abilities. But in the end the Lord will repay those who serve him. Maturity and unity are achieved by serving and beyond this, there is glory! If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. (1 Cor 3:14) Let’s be captured by the Lord and his love and serve his purposes here on earth. Whether it is public service or private prayer the Lord sees what we do (Matt 6:6). Let us give ourselves to the Lord and to one another (2 Cor 8:5).
Questions for Cell Groups
What is the difference between a one man ministry and body ministry?
How do we discover and develop our gifting within the church?
What encourages you to use your gifts?
What obstacles have you found and how have you dealt with them?
How have you been serving in the church over the last year?
Are there new areas for you to consider serving? If so share with one another and pray that you may be able to take up what the Lord is calling you to.