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Digging deeper into mutual service among the church

Posted by on Jan 17, 2013 in community, discipleship, edification, service | 7 comments

Digging deeper into mutual service among the church

Last week and the beginning of this week, I wrote a series called “To equip the saints for the work of ministry.” The point of that series was to consider how variously gifted individuals might prepare Jesus’ followers to do the hard work of serving others. But, this entire series was based on an important premise.

That premise is that God works through all of his children in various ways to build them all up in unity, faith, and maturity (edification). In other words, without mutual service, the equipping that Paul mentioned in Ephesians 4:12 is impossible. Without mutual service, the church will not be built up in unity, faith, and maturity the the level that we could be.

I’ve been excited recently to read several other posts (and series even) that are focused on this same topic and related topics.

For example, Jim at “Crossroad Junction” wrote a series on the topic of “Ekklesia and Diverse Gifts,” and he touched on the importance of mutuality in his post “The Imperative of Participation.” Here’s an excerpt from his great post:

Time and again Scripture exhorts us to avoid passivity. As such, God intends for our meetings to be incubators where we identify, develop and learn to use our gifts for our mutual growth and edification.

That’s because God’s gifts are not given for purely personal or individualistic purposes. Rather, when we meet we should be ministering to each other, each according to our unique gifts. Using our gifts within the church, in turn, allows us to become a gift – to each other, the world and, most importantly, to Jesus.

As Jim explains, mutual service and participation in each other’s life (even and especially when we gather together) is an imperative (command) and works against a natural tendency toward passivity.

Similarly, Eric from “A Pilgrim’s Progress” deals with this issue in his post “Priesthood and Reciprocity.” But, Eric looks at mutual service from a different (but just as necessary) perspective. Here’s a snippet from his post:

There is a tendency (and I’m not sure why this exists) among some Christians to be always serving but not receiving it. If you ask them if they need help, they almost always say no. I think they do this because they don’t want to cause any work for anyone else; therefore, their motives seem pure. However, in doing this they actually stunt the growth of their brothers and sisters. This is because they are keeping them from serving.

The one-anothers have a reciprocal nature. We all grow up together in Christ as we serve one another. We help others grow by one anothering together. This involves both giving and receiving. If we only focus on the giving, we end up inadvertently hurting both ourselves and others.

Eric’s is absolutely right… Mutual service means that we must be active (not passive) in serving others, and it also means that we must be willing to receive (even welcome) the service of others.

But, if we are serving one another, another question pops up…

But, don’t worry… Miguel at “God Directed Deviations” as asked the question for us. If we are serving one another, then “What Do We Need Church Leaders For?

I think that leaders are important to the body of Christ, but not for the reasons that are usually presented. I’ll leave my answer to Miguel’s question for later, but for now, I’ll leave this post with this question for you…

What are some issues that keep the brothers and sisters in Christ who you know from mutually serving one another?


7 Comments

Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 1-17-2013

    Brother, to keep it simple and focus all things on what really matters, the best help we can render anyone and the best way someone can help us – both in our Christian life and in our Christian work – is to bring us / one another to touch the Lord. Strangely (or maybe normally), all we have to do is to “hold to the head” (Eph. 4:16) and something comes out from the Head, something for the building up.

    The church life and the church service should be filled with the enjoyment of Christ, with believers bringing one another to enjoy the Lord, with prayer over the Word of God, and then – you will see, wait for it – the Head will have a way through the members of the Body to function!

    And what’s more interesting is that the service I cannot function in right now, when I touch Christ, I can – because Christ in me can. The secret to all our service, and even before we do anything for God, is that we touch Him, spend time with Him, and enjoy Him – both personally and together.

    I can testify that time and time again I have been in “service meetings”, home meetings, group meetings, church meetings, or even times when we got together to do practical service in the church – and we started with enjoying the Lord, touching Him, spending time in His word not just to “know Him” but to ENJOY Him, and… – there was no need for anyone to encourage others to function, the function was spontaneous, and the service was sweet!

    Oh… may the Lord fill our church life, our family life, and our whole living with much enjoyment of our beloved Lord Jesus!

  2. 1-17-2013

    Stefan,

    I agree with you… in fact Paul continues his description of our life together by reminding them that everything grows from the head, Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4:15-16). But, why do you think he didn’t end there? Why did he feel the need to go into “joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly” in order to explain what causes the body to build itself up in love?

    -Alan

  3. 1-17-2013

    Thanks, Alan. As always, you do a wonderful job tying things together.

  4. 1-17-2013

    I think that we set an artificially high bar for our service toward one another. If I am not confident that my brother will be completely healed the first time I pray for him, I must not have anything to offer. Surely just showing that I love him enough to lay a hand on his shoulder and cry out to God with him isn’t enough!

    We’re convinced that a teaching requires 30 minutes of engaging, relevant, and well-researched delivery rather than 30 seconds letting someone know we’ve been thinking about them and have struggled as well.

    This high bar isn’t from God. I believe His standards are higher still: He desires loving kindness, not sacrifice – and I’m still finding out what that means.

  5. 1-17-2013

    Jim,

    Thank you. I look forward to “digging deeper” into this topic in person with you soon.

    Tim,

    Ditto for what I said to Jim. The “high bar” isn’t really high in God’s perspective, because it’s all of man’s making. :)

    -Alan

  6. 1-24-2013

    Alan,

    I couldn’t find contact information for you, so forgive me for using this comment to communicate this to you. I think you might be very interested in a website I discovered a while ago that had a part in my decision to leave the religion that I was in. The website is http://www.BatteredSheep.com and the article that influenced my decision to leave a Reformed Baptist church was ‘When Should a Christian Leave a Church?’ (in 3 parts) by John G. Reisinger. I sincerely hope you find it a blessing.

    Dwight

  7. 1-24-2013

    Dwight,

    My email address is on my About page. It’s alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

    -Alan