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…
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?