Sunday, March 30, 2008

Being a Life Giver, Part 5: Life Giving in the Church

If we are followers of Christ, God has called all of us to be involved in the local church. 9Marks Ministries gives a good definition of the local church. They state: “We believe the local church is the focal point of God's plan for displaying his glory to the nations.” God has designed the local church for our good, and his glory. We were not designed to live the Christian life alone. We were created for community and fellowship. In the local church we are able to share life with fellow believers, be held accountable in our spiritual growth, and cultivate the gifts that God has given us. Being a life giver in our church means that we use our God-give gifts and abilities for the glory of God and the good of his people.

The more I thought about this series the more I realized that these three areas (community, home, and church) all intersect on many levels. Our homes can be huge avenues for ministry as we serve people in our community. And often the people in our community are people from our church! As we seek to bring Christ to our community through various means we might bring them to church and invite them into our house. Practically speaking, our lives should not be compartmentalized to one area of ministry, as if the only place we are bringing Christ into people’s lives is at work, or home, or church. If our lives are consumed with the Savior, then this will spill over into every area, making every task Gospel-centered.

It might seem, at first glance, easier to think about life giving in the local church. For many of us that is what we are doing already. But often we have the mentality that bigger is better. We have a hierarchy of giftedness where we elevate the more visible gifts (teaching and leadership), and pass over the ones that are behind the scenes. This is not how God views it. In fact, he expressly condemns it, as the Apostle Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 12:21-24. We should not give greater honor to gifts that seem more “presentable” in our eyes. Each of us is gifted by God in some way in order to give life to his people and glory to his name. We must not buy into the world’s idea about power and prestige. We also must not attempt to fit every woman into the same mold. In this same passage Paul tells us that we need all of the gifts. We need the women who love changing diapers just as much as the women who are excellent at leading and making decisions or the women who are discerning about the Spirit’s leading. They all matter, and have a place, in the church.

There are many places for singles to thrive in the local church. Maybe you have an accounting degree and can offer to help your church with their taxes for no charge. Or maybe you can even help other struggling families in the church get their taxes done on time, too. It might mean that you offer to baby sit for the overwhelmed mother in your congregation while she spends an afternoon catching up on errands and grocery shopping. Or organizing your annual church picnic. Or visiting an elderly church member at her home because she is now confined to her house. God does not want us to waste our singleness. We are all called to serve in our local church, whether we are young, old, single or married. The single years are not a time of play and recreation, despite what the world tells us. That is not how Paul viewed singleness. Rather, Paul saw singleness as unhindered ability to serve in capacities that married people could not (and for good reason).

Life giving in the local church is radical. It means fighting every temptation to go with the culture around us. It also means, as I have said before, a dying to self and following Christ—our exalted head. My sister-in-law went to a conference on the family this weekend, and she told me something that the speaker said that was very helpful even for this discussion. He asked if our homes were places of safe haven for us or places of ministry. As believers our lives should be about doing ministry for Christ’s sake. That is what it all comes down to, really. Jesus Christ is the starting and end point of all ministry opportunities. If we lose sight of him in our quest to serve it will be empty good deeds that send people to hell. We don’t give life because we can do it; we give life because he already gave life perfectly for us. He is our righteousness. He is our hope. Let this be a reminder to us as we seek to represent our Christ in every sphere of our lives.

ps: I learned how to link in the actual posts now. I think I knew how to do it all along, I just never put the pieces together in my head. :)

2 comments:

stephen said...

Courtney,

I was on the CBMW website, read your post, and was curious if this was actually the "Courtney" I thought it was.

You've got great stuff here, and I look forward to seeing more in my RSS feed in future days.

Peace be with you,
Stephen

cdt said...

Stephen,

Thank you for your comment. This is the same Courtney you thought it was!

Thank you for reading!

-Courtney