Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: A consideration of service/ministry.

Title: God Wants Us To Be . . . A Church That Serves

Series: The Church God Wants Us To Be, Sermon # 4

COPYRIGHT © Joe La Rue, 2008

Text: Mark 10:42–45

Date Preached: February 3, 2008


A. During the early morning hours of Sunday, January 27, just one week ago today, fire swept through Tim and Victoria Lasita’s Delhi Township home. The house was destroyed, and with it, practically all their possessions. Tim, Victoria and their two sets of triplets—6 children in all, under the age of 6—were now homeless, and had nothing. To compound the problem, the Lasitas had been having financial difficulties as a result of trying to care for 6 children, and in an attempt to cut costs they had reduced the coverage of their homeowner’s insurance and cancelled their car insurance.

By Tuesday of this past week, the Cincinnati community had responded to this tragedy with an overwhelming outpouring of generosity. The Lasitas have received offers of places to stay and cars to drive. Donations of clothing and money have poured in, and fund-raisers have been scheduled. Tim Lasita, in an interview with the Cincinnati Enquirer, commented: “We never asked for a handout, but the offers of help keep coming. So do our tears.”

And his wife, Victoria, added that her heart has been touched by the community’s display of kindness. “I can’t believe how people have opened their hearts and their wallets for us,” she said.

Tim Lasita summed up his feelings when he said, “The goodness in people leaves me nearly speechless. If anyone ever tells you that people are self-centered and don’t help out around here, just send them to me. I’ll set them straight.” (Cliff Radel, The Kindness of Strangers, Cincinnati Enquirer, Jan 29, 2008)

I am reminded when I hear stories like that of what Seth Wilson used to say. Seth was the founding Dean of Ozark Christian College, and he was convinced that being a Christian meant serving people. It meant giving of yourself, and allowing God to use the gifts He has given you to bless other people. And to underscore that idea, Seth used to say: “They’ll never care how much we know, until they know how much we care.”

B. For the last several weeks, we’ve been talking about the characteristics that God wants every church to possess. Two weeks ago we talked about how God wants churches to be made up of people who really worship—people who worship God in spirit and in truth, which means that they worship with the right attitude and the right focus. Last week we talked about how God wants churches to be filled with people who learn from Jesus, and we saw that we can do that through personal Bible study and church attendance and asking the question, ‘What would Jesus do?’ in the various situations in which we find ourselves. This week we’re going to study about a third characteristic God wants to see in every church. If you have your Bibles with you, look with me at Mark’s gospel, chapter 10, verses 42 through 45.

1. Immediately before the passage that we are about to read, two of the apostles—James and John—had approached Jesus and asked that that they be seated right by Him in the kingdom of heaven, one on His right side and the other on His left. In Bible times, Kings sat the most powerful people in those spots. So what James and John were really asking was, “Let us be the most powerful of your disciples. Let us be the most privileged. Let us be the important ones.”

2. Well, naturally, this didn’t sit very well with the other apostles. The Bible says that they were “indignant,” and the word used in the original Greek text indicates a strong feeling of anger. They weren’t just a little bit perturbed. The apostles were really angry at James and John and their nerve.

3. And it was in that context that Jesus spoke the words which we find in Mark 10:42–45. Read it with me. God’s Word says:

Jesus called his followers together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42–45, New International Version)

C. Do you want to be great? Many people are pre-conditioned when they hear that question to say, “No, I don’t want to be great,” because we’ve been conditioned to think that “greatness in the church” isn’t something that Christians are supposed to desire.

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