Inspired by the love of Christ, and enabled by the Holy Spirit, we serve God through worship, education and fellowship that we may proclaim His grace and share His love in the world.
Inspired by the love of Christ – In his second letter to the church at Corinth, Paul says that “the love of Christ controls us…” The Greek verb translated in the RSV as ‘controls’ literally means to urge on or impel. This is the sense behind Christ’s love for us inspiring us in our lives of faith today. In his writings, Luke also uses the same term in medical contexts where people are ‘gripped’ by fever, or by some powerful emotion like fear or distress. In each case, there is some strong pressure, physical or psychological, which arrests a person and compels them or urges them – inspires them. According to Paul, this pressure controlling or inspiring the church is Christ’s love. Because Christ acted for our sakes, we now act for His. There is no doubt that the cross of Christ was undertaken for us. The Christian mission must be undertaken for Him, precisely because His love compels us and inspires us.
Enabled by the Holy Spirit – In his 24th chapter, Luke describes Jesus commissioning His disciples. As He tells them what to do, He also says “you are witnesses of these things. And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high.” The disciples have witnessed who Jesus is and what He has accomplished. Now, their calling is to testify and proclaim all that has taken place according to the scriptures. Jesus speaks of sending them out as witnesses, but not before they have been equipped. So that they will be enabled for their responsibility, He will send the Holy Spirit from the Father, effectively giving them power from God Himself. As Luke makes clear in both his 24th and 12th chapters, the Spirit is the One who enables us to testify about Jesus in an effective way. We are empowered by the Holy Spirit to live for and serve Christ, to follow His calling in our lives of faith.
We serve God - The life of faith is all about service. Jesus said, “whoever would be great among you must be your servant…even as the Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” This theme of servanthood is found in the teaching of Jesus over and over again. Following the washing of the feet of His disciples in John 13, Jesus said “I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.” In all we do, we seek to serve God, for He is worthy of our service, and as we serve, we follow the example of Christ.
We serve God through worship – God has created us to worship, and He wants us to worship Him. The following quotation from Psalm 95 is representative of what is found in many places in His Word: “O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker! For He is our God…” Worship can and does take many forms – songs of praise, prayers, gifts, consecrated acts of mercy, the proclamation of God’s Holy Word. In all of these ways and more, we come together as God’s people aware of a God who is worthy of our worship. While we can worship in many ways, it should always be of a nature so as to invoke in the worshiper praise, integrity, obedience, dedication and gratitude to God, with adoration and exaltation of Him, as well as an awareness of one’s unworthiness of God’s presence save in the grace of Jesus Christ. We seek to worship and glorify God, for that is why we were created.
We serve God through education – As Jesus prepared to leave His disciples, He gave them the overarching purpose of the church when He said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” Obviously, the teaching, the educating of others is a major portion of this commission; and like worship, education can and does take many forms. Church school classes, circle studies, sermons, Bible studies at church and home, preschool classes, printed material, library resources, etc. are all aimed at the larger issue of educating Christ’s followers in His ways. Education prepares minds for growth in faith, and works in concert with the Holy Spirit to produce mutual growth in love for the good of the church.
We serve God through fellowship – For many in the church, this term ‘fellowship’ has connotations of food and conversation. However, according to the New Testament, there are much deeper meanings. Consider Hebrews 10:22-25, where we can see that fellowship will be marked by: drawing nearer to God, spurring each other on in love, meeting together regularly, and encouraging each other. Or, the early church in Acts 2 is described as meeting together, eating in each others’ homes, worshiping God together, and not alienating or isolating themselves from outsiders in spite of the deeper relationships they had with one another. When the early church focused on this type of fellowship, God gave them growth daily.
That we may proclaim His grace and share His love in the world – The mission statement is designed so that all members are encouraged to participate. This is especially evident in this latter section of the statement where the process is clarified concerning what members are to act on each and every day. Inspired by Christ’s love and enabled by His Spirit, we serve through worship, education and fellowship, which enables the proclamation of His grace and the sharing of His love wherever people are found. In other words, the church should be seen as a called body of believers, a commissioned body with a responsibility to live in such a way, yielded to God’s Spirit, that a harvest of the unchurched in the world is realized. This means that the church does not seek or empower certain individuals to enact outreach; rather, proclaiming His grace and sharing His love is a way of life for all. The entire congregation is a ‘sent’ church, a commissioned group that is involved in the wonderful work of reaping a harvest – a task that has reference to the habits, values, priorities, and programs of every member. While methods and ministries of outreach may take many forms, ultimately, all outreach is based on the love of God in Christ for His world, and His promise that His Word will not return empty, but will indeed accomplish His purpose to His honor and glory.