Summary: Being fed in church is fine, but if all we do is eat and not put our faith into action, all we get is spiritual obesity.
Guarding Against Spiritual Obesity
November 11, 2007
We are coming to the end of our autumn stewardship emphasis. Next week is Consecration Sunday when we will present our Estimate of Giving cards to God’s work through Calvary church. Throughout the last few weeks, we have been talking about stewardship as consisting of so much more than money.
It is all about commitment. Over the last three weeks, we have talked about our commitment to support the church with our prayers, our presence, and our gifts. Today, we move on to the commitment of service.
As we move into the new millennium, I think that the churches which are going to have the biggest impact on the world are those who do their best in helping all of their members be effective in using their spiritual gifts. We haven’t always done that around here, but we are going to keep on trying to do a better job of it.
In my opinion, there is too often a large chasm in churches nowadays. I think that there is a huge abyss separating the laity and the clergy. Much too often, the prevailing notion is that if anything is to be done in the church, it should be the clergy who does it. There is, in my opinion, an almost ingrained attitude that church is somehow a spectator sport. People sit on the sidelines and watch the ministry being conducted by the clergy and the other paid staff of the church.
That however, is not an attitude that can be found anywhere in Scripture. You see, according to the Bible, we are all the laos, the people of God. All of us have been designed for service. All of us have been given a special gift or special gifts to be used to increase the ministry of the Body of Christ. I think that we each have an obligation to try to discern just exactly it is where God wants us to serve.
We may be called to do different things, in different places, and for different periods of time, but we are all called to do something to increase the health of not only the Body of Christ, but also of those who have not heard or been introduced to the Good News.
As we go through this message today about our service, I am going to speak on three basic points. The old sermon form was three points and a poem. Well today I don’t have a poem, but I still have the three points. We are going to talk about 1) the essential nature of service, 2) the place where we should serve, and 3) how we should serve.
One of the things that people often say in churches today is that they need to be fed. They go to their present church because they are being fed each week. Or they have changed churches recently because they weren’t being fed at the last church. Or they are thinking about looking for another church where they can be fed.
What they are saying, I think, is that they are looking for a church in which they are taught the Scriptures, educated in the doctrines of the church, led to a fuller understanding and appreciation of Jesus Christ, and enabled to carry on a rich and fulfilling spiritual life. I want to be fed, we hear. Over and over again; I want to be fed.
Now there is nothing at all wrong with the seeking of those things. Those areas are all important in our growth and development as Christians. Those are the things that help us mature in the faith and become more grounded in the ways of the Spirit.
But I hope you will allow me to lift up a word of caution. You see, if all you do is feed, you are bound to develop spiritual obesity. If all you do is feed on the Word of God, you get fat because you are never active.
All in all, I have spent eight years in seminary classrooms. I love to go to school. In fact, the thing I probably do best is go to school. I love to read and learn about the newest research in theology, biblical scholarship, church history, and church growth. I love sitting in a classroom with my peers who challenge me to think in new ways. I have always told Toni that if I were really rich – not just rich, but REALLY rich – I would go to school. I would simply spend my days in a classroom, soaking up all the stuff that the professors have to teach me.
But you see, you can’t just continue to feed on that stuff. The purpose of the church is not to sit and soak. The purpose is not just to get fat and happy. The purpose of the church is to put all of that learning and all of that feeding into action. Becoming spiritually obese helps no one.