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We recently finished up a series at C3 called “Full”. Jeff talked about what it means to be full. The following is a brief excerpt from the series where he talked about service. (These are Jeff’s words, not mine, and I appreciate them very much):
What exactly does it mean to love someone? How do you know that someone loves you? How does someone know that you love them?
One way is to say it – you can declare love to someone. But the other way to identify love is to show it. Love gets substance when it’s demonstrated, and that demonstration will often speak louder than the words.
I think real fullness is missing from many Christ followers today because over time we’ve taken a CRITICAL, NON-NEGOTIABLE part of our life in Christ and we’ve made it OPTIONAL. That non-negotiable part is SERVING.
WHY we serve:
We serve because the EXAMPLE was set by JESUS HIMSELF. (Philippians 2:3-18)
While Jesus was here on earth His nature was to serve – even when it cost Him deeply. If we want to be like Christ, we will serve. Remember also that the definition of “Lord” is “Master”. If Jesus is our master, doesn’t it make sense that we would be the servants?
We serve because it actively demonstrates a LIVING FAITH. (James 2:14-17)
What kind of faith is condemned in verse 14? (What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?) Saving faith?
No. This verse is all about dead faith. Bible scholar Warren Wiersbe describes it this way:
“People with dead faith substitute words for deeds. They know the correct vocabulary for prater and testimony, and can even quote the right verses from the Bible, but their walk does not measure up to their talk. They think that their words are as good as works, and they are wrong.” (Wiersbe Bible Commentary, p. 864)
What he is describing is “faith” purely of the mind (or in the mind).
James never intends to suggest that Christ followers should reject faith and try to be saved by works. Action without faith may be productive or even helpful in this world, and may do much “good” here. But it will not even remotely bring salvation. We are saved by grace, through faith in baptism, as outlined by Paul and demonstrated in the book of Acts.
But living things are characterized by action. They grow, change and develop. The only way an organism can be totally inactive, is if it is dead. If authentic faith is alive, it too will be characterized by action.
James is saying that deeds/works/actions are completely inseparable from the authentic faith that motivates them. The only way to remove action is to remove authentic faith and replace it with something else. Like, say, dead faith.
If we want “life, and life to the full,” like Jesus described, we have to act on our faith.
It’s not optional. It’s a matter of life and death.
The beauty of this whole simple Scriptural thing, is that it’s a cycle. As you love God, it opens up opportunities to live in community, and ways to serve the world. But as you live in community and serve the world, the ground is fertile for growing your love for God.
I’ll make no promises of what God might do for you, nor can I predict what He may ask of you as you follow.
But I will say that God has always been about transformation. People that surrender to Him get new life. And wherever He finds a believer willing to yield to His will, listen to His Word, and follow His way, He starts to transform that believer and accomplish amazing things, both in and through that life.
So, do you want to be full? Because, He’s ready.
No longer can we afford to stand on the cliffs high above the cultural mudslide, chastising people for not climbing out of the mess to come up to the higher ground. No longer can we feel content throwing our heroic lifelines of propositions to save…
No, it is time for Christian leaders, tethered to the lifeline of God’s Spirit and the community of faith, to gather up courage and plunge into the swirling mess of the cultural flow. Just as Paul said he did in Corinth, we too must “try to find common ground with everyone so that [we] might bring them to Christ.” We must emulate the God who dove right into the sewer of life himself in the body of Jesus. And we must reawaken his dream — God’s dream of swimming this rescue mission on earth through a new Body — the Body of his church — Christ’s Body re-presented. ~ John Burke (No Perfect People Allowed)