“Go be a blessing!” Our pastor years ago ended every sermon with this short exhortation. He explained repeatedly over his ten-year tenure that if we come and go to GET a blessing, we’ll likely be disappointed, but if we come and go to BE a blessing, we’ll always GET one.
When my entire goal is getting what I can out of those around me at church, I miss the point…
My involvement in the local church should feed me spiritually, but the feeding doesn’t come from the pulpit in eloquently prepared sermons as much as it comes from the community itself. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good sermon and solid teaching from God’s Word, but I’ve come to love even more the people of the church entering into one another’s lives and feeding one another’s souls through prayer and faithful service.
Needs within the church cannot be met solely by paid staffers. Churches cannot hire a new assistant every time members decide they’re too busy or disinterested to volunteer.
The spiritual gifts and individual talents God gave us help us feed one another and grow the church, not only in numbers, but also in spiritual maturity. When one member’s gift of teaching has her studying for the next Bible study, others gifted in decor and baking (hospitality) prepare the atmosphere where the those involved receive the teaching.
That’s how God intended us to function…
I Cor. 12:7 says, “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.”
Sometimes, I lead the music in our early, traditional service and get to see the room from a different angle than most. We have several ladies with walkers in that service, and each week, at the end of the service, I see two ushers walk to the back of the sanctuary, where the walkers are kept out of the way, and deliver them to those ladies during the final prayer–yes, I open my eyes.
Our Paul and Dale never make a show of their service to these ladies, but this week, as I watched Dale stoop and scoop up one lady’s purse and bible and place it on the little seat of her walker, I noticed that our Julie didn’t open her eyes, or flinch at the sound of his moving, or worry that someone was stealing her purse. No, Julie has become so accustomed to Dale’s act of service, that she’s comfortable knowing she won’t have to find her walker or move her own things to it. Dale’s contribution to the body was as natural as breathing, and I’m pretty sure Julie doesn’t worry about whether her lungs will allow her one more breath either.
Our ushers understand that their service is “for the common good.” Something as simple as delivering a walker during a final prayer meets the needs of some other member in the body as much as the oxygen flowing through our physical bodies allows our entire body to continue functioning.
When I skip church because I just don’t feel like going, I leave the body without a member it needs. I’m not suggesting that we should never miss services, but I do believe that we should be there consistently to build one another up in the faith, equipping one another to go beyond the walls of the church and into daily life with something different to offer those we encounter.
When a vibrant congregation is known for its love and care, we fulfill scripture as Jesus asserts in John 13:35, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
…and who doesn’t want to be loved?
Over the years, I’ve come to see my part in church as a giver. Oh, believe me, I still take away quite a lot. I have my rounds of necks I hug and get big squeezes back from every Sunday, and sweet Nan in the kitchen always makes sure I have something to eat because she knows I get there early and stay late. Paul and Dale faithfully greet me at the back of the sanctuary along with a few cohorts who love to tease (yes, Rick, I’m talking about you), and I’m encouraged as I watch how each one’s gifts uniquely fits this Body.
If you’re faithful in your church, I imagine you could easily replace Paul, Dale, Rick, Nan, and Julie with names from your own church, and the same love and care would apply to your congregation, or at least, I hope so.
Don’t cut off your church’s nose to spite your face.
…and that’s the view from My Front Porch.