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Summary: We are called and equipped to serve - in Jesus’ name!

One of the beliefs about our economic system is that it has moved from being an industrial economy to a service and information economy. In other words, more and more jobs are based on providing a service or information than providing a product.

Service has therefore become an important part of business life as the following stories illustrate:

A resident in a seaside hotel breakfast room called over the head waiter one morning and said, “I want two boiled eggs, one of them so undercooked it’s runny, and the other so overcooked, it’s about as easy to eat as rubber; also grilled bacon that has been left on the plate to get cold; burnt toast that crumbles away as soon as you touch it with a knife; butter straight from the deep-freeze so that it’s impossible to spread; and a pot of very weak coffee, luke-warm.”

“That’s a complicated order, sir,” said the bewildered waiter. “It might be a bit difficult.” The guest replied, “Oh, but that’s what you gave me yesterday!”

Or how about the businesswoman who stopped at a coffee shop and ordered a cup of coffee. The waitress grudgingly delivered it and asked, “Anything else?”

“Yes,” said the businesswoman, “I’d like some sugar, cream, a spoon, a napkin, and a saucer for the cup.” “Well, aren’t you the demanding one,” snapped the waitress.

“Look at it from my point of view,” said the businesswoman, “You served a cup of coffee and made five mistakes!”

We expect good service when we go out to eat or to buy something or to get something. We like to be treated with respect when we are served or waited upon. Service is an important commodity these days.

We are at the concluding point in our series, God’s vision for us: a fully following and faithfully functioning church. (Overhead 1) And we conclude this morning with the fifth function - service or ministry. The purpose of our service ministry is to serve others in Jesus’ name.

But, before we examine this very important function, a brief review is necessary. We spent the month of January looking at the first part of this vision – the fully following part. And we examined the lives of 10 Biblical characters that exemplified a fully following commitment and life. (Overhead 2)

Then during the past two months we have examined the second half of God’s vision for us – a fully functioning church – by looking at the five key functions of the local church. (Overhead 3)

This morning I suggest that the important function and ministry of service stands at the point where a local church meets the community in which it resides. (Overhead 4)

Service is the avenue to reach out and bring people to Christ. Service is simple. Service involves the human touch in Christ’s name. Service is our faith and our commitment in action.

Jesus made that plain in Matthew 25, when he notes in verses 31 through 46 that service expressed in the acts of feeding those who are hungry, giving water to those who are thirsty, inviting in those who are without a home, clothing those who are in need of clothing, and acknowledging those who are sick or in prison with a simple visit, is a sign of discipleship, of commitment. Service is a key way of expressing our faith at a very practical level. And all of us are called and expected to serve. Jesus does not make a distinction between clergy and laity in this passage. He expects all of His followers to serve others in his name.

In our main text for this morning, I Corinthians 12:27, Paul makes clear that a fully functioning body, that is a fully functioning church, functions best when all its parts work together. Each of us, as individual followers of Christ, must work together. And we work together as we serve.

Service exercises the body. Service strengthens the spiritual muscles of the church. Someone has said, “If you take in and don’t give out, you become fat. If you give out and don’t take in, you become faint. If you give out and take in, you become fit.” Service, when balanced with worship, fellowship, outreach, and discipleship can help us to become fit and fully functioning.

Three weeks ago we considered the dangers of a fast-food faith. We considered the diet problem in our country with expanded waistlines and reduced capability to maintain a healthy body and life-style. Exercise is another ingredient in staying in SHAPE. Regular exercise helps to maintain our health and bodies in God-honoring ways.

The same holds true for the church. Discipleship is essential for spiritual vitality and nutrients so that we grow and develop, as we should. But, service helps us to exercise our spiritual muscles so that we develop into healthy Christians and churches. What kind of SHAPE are you and I in?

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