February 4 – Serving


Main Focus: The lives of Jesus’s followers resemble his sacrificial life.

It’s week three of Being the Church, and this week we’re looking at the practice of Serving. To do this we’ll make a brief stop in Acts 2 again, to see some of the impetus to serve that comes out of gospel-formed life together, before heading to 1 Corinthians 12 to get a better sense for what this life of mutual service might look like. In summary, just as Jesus’s life is marked by sacrificial service for his church, so too are the lives of his followers.

In Acts 2:42-47 we see a whole host of people who just the day prior were mostly strangers from different countries and regions, now all thrown together into a new community of faith in Jesus. And rather than sitting around feeling it out and fumbling through ice breaker questions, they immediately launch into a shared life of remarkable service and devotion. They saw to each other’s physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs by sharing food, money, time, belongings, and their own gifts of hospitality, helping, teaching, evangelism, etc.

But this effect isn’t limited to this one community 2000 years ago. When people are gathered together around the teachings of Jesus, their time, energy, skills, and spiritual gifts are used how Jesus used his: for the good of others. Followers of Jesus are decidedly for one another like Jesus is for them—as we’ll note in discussion, following Jesus directly connects to serving others like he did.

We’ll then turn to 1 Corinthians 12:4-26 (though the Sunday reading ended at v.11) to learn more about this mutual service. Here we’ll see a theme we saw throughout last year’s All of God for All of Us: diversity within unity. We saw it within the Trinity and within the diverse people of God in our Divine Community series, and we see it here too—different people, with different God-given gifts and abilities and insights and experiences, serving each other through their differences for the common good. Paul even touches on ethnic diversity in verse 13, showing how in Christ different people are all unified together.

He does so with a metaphor that is perhaps familiar to you but is jampacked with meaning: “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ” (1 Cor 12:12). In verses 12-26, Paul uses this metaphor to survey a handful of things that are necessary to life within the people of God, things like our unified diversity, our mutual need for one another, the respect we owe others’ differences, and how we can fight against gift-related swagger and envy. These are all requisite for building up this body of Jesus-followers in love (Eph 4:16).

In discussion we’ll narrow in on how this helps us see our need for others and their need for us. This grates against our American individualism; we’re inclined to believe the myth that we don’t really need other people to get through life or stay faithful to Jesus. But, in Paul’s metaphor, this would be like a severed finger thinking to itself that everything is fine. We need each other, but more than this, others need us. We have a responsibility to the family of God, our fellow citizens in the kingdom, to use our God-given gifts and abilities to their benefit and for building up Christ’s body on earth.

Here’s what the New Members packet has to say about the practice of Serving:

The New Testament repeatedly refers to the church as Christ’s body and summons followers of Jesus to serve one another as fellow members of that body. The metaphor is a helpful one; a body needs all sorts of components working together and providing mutual support so that it continues to grow in health, but also the loss of even a small or lowly part can pose pain for the whole body. The same is true for our church; we need all kinds of members operating out of varied gifts and abilities in mutual service and admiration, and where our members themselves suffer crisis or loss we need other members to rally to their needs.

Discussion questions

– Could someone read Acts 2:42-47 again for us?

– What stands out to you about the way they were serving each other?

– How can this help us see the connection between following Jesus and serving others?

– Could someone read 1 Corinthians 12:4-26 for us?

– How does this describe the unified diversity of the church?

– How does this help you understand your need for others and their need for you?

– What are some ways you enjoy using your gifts to bless others, and what are some ways you want to grow in this?