Summary: Our faith is demonstrated by our service to others, and it one of the ways God forms us into mature Christians
Habits that lead to Christian Maturity
In Lent we went through a series called “Habits That Lead to Christian Maturity”, we looked at formative reading, formative prayer, Formative Fellowship, and Formative Worship. We felt like we needed to stay with Worship for a while, so we didn’t get to the topic of Formative Service before Easter. So… I thought that we would deal with it now.
The whole area of service is a very important one in the Christian life. The importance can be seen in the difference between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea in the Holy Land. The two bodies of water are connected by the Jordan River in a direct north-south line along the Great Rift Valley. Clear, sweet water from underground springs flows into the Sea of Galilee. And the Sea of Galilee flows south into the Jordan. Galilee is a gorgeous, active lake, full of life that has sustained fishermen in the region for millennia. The Dead Sea, by contrast, is a shallow, selfish basin with no outlet. It hoards the water that flows into it. Some water evaporates, leaving behind brackish, clouded water so dense that swimmers bob like corks. The whole sea is dead.
When we as Christians have no outlet of service, we too can become spiritually dead, and stagnant. Instead of our faith being attractive, life giving and fruitful, we become as off-putting as a stagnant pond.
James teaches us that our faith is demonstrated by our service, in fact the two are inseparable.
James 2:14-26 “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds."
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.”
Paul tells us that we are (re)created to serve
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do
James says in 1:27 “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
God, through Isaiah, actually tells the people that service to the oppressed and down trodden is more important than fasting. We often see fasting as the ultimate in getting God’s attention, but God says it is meaningless without service.
Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for a man to humble himself?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
and for lying on sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the Lord ?
6 "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter-
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
What is Christian Service?
Christian Service is not what we do in order to gain God’s favor. We already have his favor through Jesus death and resurrection. We serve each other out of gratitude for what Jesus has done for us, and in obedience to the leader of our life.
Christian service is as much about attitude as it is about action. Many people can perform the same action for as many different reasons. Some will do what looks like service out of selfish ambition, some out of a legalistic pride, some to receive praise, but it is only Christian service when we are serving the other person or people out of selfless love.
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature ; rather, serve one another in love
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.