Beyond Myself - Serve
Topic: The vision for our church
BEYOND MYSELF – SERVE MATTHEW 20:28
Open your Bibles to the Gospel of Matthew. We are going to be looking at Matthew 20:28. For 2016, we have been unpacking what is known as the vision frame. Over here, we have a giant picture frame.
You will notice that there are 4 sides to the picture frame and each side represents a question. It is necessary for our church to answer each of these questions if we want to maximize our effectiveness in advancing the Kingdom of God here in Murfreesboro.
The four questions are as follows:
What are we doing? The answer to this question gives us our missional mandate.
Why are we doing it? The answer to this question reveals our missional motives.
How are we doing it? The answer to this question gives us our missional map.
When are we successful? The answer to this question reveals the attributes or characteristics in the life of the individual that reflect the accomplishment of our church’s mission.
When we are able to answer each of these questions, our church has tremendous clarity which drives us to the big question, “Where is God is taking us?” The vision pathway team has identified some short term ideas on this specific question, but we believe as we focus on the what, why, how, and when questions, and live out the answers to those questions, God is going to lead us to do some amazing things.
Over the past couple of weeks, we have been focusing specifically on the question, “How are we doing it?” We are looking specifically at the strategy of how we accomplish the mission of Belle Aire Baptist. To make sure everyone knows, our mission at Belle Aire is Growing people beyond everyday life to fullness in Christ-centered living. We want to take people wherever they are in life and point them to Jesus Christ through his Gospel. We want people to know, embrace, and live to the fullest in Christ-centered living. And this includes you here this morning. This isn’t just for those outside these walls. We believe in order to accomplish our mission, every person in our church needs to be engaged in the four-fold strategy that includes worship, connect, serve, and reach. These are four critical areas in the life of every member of our church.
You cannot experience the fullness in Christ-centered living without being engaged in worship, connecting with others through relationships, serving the body, and reaching others with the gospel of Jesus Christ. The scripture makes this very clear. Dean focused on the necessity of worshipping God. Last Sunday, I stressed the necessity of connecting with others because we not only belong to Christ, but we belong to one another. Today, I want to focus on the necessity of serving the body.
I want to highlight 3 truths about serving and then talk about their implications for us as a church body.
We will begin in Matthew 20:28. Even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
1. Christ Set the Example for Us to Serve. This particular passage begins with the mother of the disciples, James and John, requesting that her sons sit on either side of Jesus in his kingdom. The question posed by the mother and the response of her 2 sons stirs us jealousy from the other disciples. But as often is the case of the disciples, they aren’t fully tuned in to how the kingdom works. You see, they were thinking purely in worldly terms. They were looking for prominence and importance and that came through authority, power, and being the top dog. Not much has changed in our world today. It is the system of this world. But Jesus turns this paradigm completely upside down.
Look at verses 25-27: But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave. Jesus takes the lowest of the rung in the society, a slave, and elevates that person to the very top. He say that whoever would be first among you must be your slave. You can’t go any lower than being a slave. And what does a slave do? He serves at the command of his master. He is a servant. It is here where Jesus sets the example for us to serve.
Look again at the first part of Matthew 20:28: Even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve. Jesus did not come to this world and abide by its rules. Rather, Jesus is transforming it. Jesus came not to be served, but to serve. And Jesus didn’t just say these words, but he proved it with his actions. He lived what he preached.
To prove this, turn with me quickly to the Gospel of John, chapter 13. In this chapter, Jesus and his disciples have gathered together in the upper room where they are about to partake of the Feast of the Passover. More specifically, this is the last supper with his disciples because Jesus is less than 24 hours away from being handed over to the authorities, beaten, tried, and executed. Look with me at John 13:3-5: Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. In those days, it was the task of a slave to wash the feet of those entering a house. It was a lowly task. I’m not sure it could get any lower. We have to remember people in those days didn’t have shoes. They walked around in sandals on dirt roads filled with mud and other foul things. And here is Jesus washing the feet of the disciples. He is setting an example of serving others.
Look what Jesus says to them in John 13:13-16: You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. After Jesus has set the example of what it means to serve, he commissions his disciples to follow his lead. The command stands true to this day. We must serve others because Christ commanded it and set the example for us.
This leads us to the second truth. 2. The Gospel Frees Us to Serve Look back at the verse we started in, Matthew 20:28. It says: Even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, What if the New Testament didn’t go any further than this? What if Jesus only came to set the pattern for us? So what if he Jesus took this to the extreme by dying as an example of selflessness and humility? The problem is Jesus would have simply been a great man like many great men in history. Praise God it doesn’t end there. Look at the verse one more time: Even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. It says that he gave his life as a ransom. It is here for the very first time in the New Testament where we are introduced to the redemptive work of Christ. The word ransom refers to the price necessary for the release of a slave. Christ gave his life as a ransom. More specifically, Christ gave his life as a ransom for us slaves. That’s right, we were slaves.
We were slaves of sin. Slaves of death. Slaves to the law. Slaves of Satan. Slaves of the flesh. Slaves of the world. Slaves of Hell. But Christ paid the price to release us, and it was a hefty price.
1 Peter 1:18 says: Knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. All the silver and gold in the world would not be enough to free us from our slavery. It took the precious, spotless blood of Jesus Christ. Christ gave his life to pay our ransom to free us from slavery. This is the beauty of the gospel. Romans 5:8 says: But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. While we were in the depths of our sin, living according to the principles of this world, serving the master of this world, Christ died for us. He didn’t wait for us to clean ourselves up. He didn’t wait till we were perfect. He died for us while we were dead in our sin. But, that is not all.
Look with me at Romans 7:4-6: Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code. It says that we have died to the law so that we may have a new master, a resurrected master. We belong to the resurrected Jesus Christ. Now look again at verse 4. We belong to Jesus for a purpose, that we may bear fruit for God. No longer are we to bear the evil fruit produced by the flesh or our sinful passions. Instead, it says that we have died to that which held us captive. Now, here is the point: The gospel has released us from the law so that we can serve in the new way of the Spirit. We were redeemed to bring glory to God through service. So Jesus not only set the example for us in what it means to serve, but he has also given us the gospel that has released us from our slavery so that we can serve and thus follow his example. But that’s not all. Here is the third truth. 3. The Holy Spirit Empowers Us to Serve Turn to 1 Peter 4:10. Peter writes: As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace. Peter acknowledges an important truth, that all believers have received a gift. This word for gift is a reference to our spiritual gifts. Paul talks at length about spiritual gifts in Romans and 1 Corinthians. In chapter 12 of 1 Corinthians, verses 4-7, Paul says: Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. Paul, too, acknowledges that all believers have received a gift from the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit empowers every believer with this gift for the purpose of serving the body of Christ. Verse 7 in 1 Corinthians 12 says that it is for the common good.
Going back to 1 Peter 4:10, Peter says that as a result of receiving these gifts from the Holy Spirit, we must use them to serve one another. And that is not all. Peter says that as we use our gift in serving one another, we are stewarding God’s grace. In other words, as we receive the grace of God through the gifting of our spiritual gift, we disburse that grace to others in the usage of our spiritual gift. We experience God’s grace as we disburse God’s grace to his people. And that is not all. Look at the rest of what Peter wrote: As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. When we exercise our gift, we not only disburse God’s grace to others, but the end game is we bring glory to him. Take a step back and put all of this into perspective. Jesus set for us an example of serving others, but he didn’t end there. He paid our ransom so that through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we have been set free to serve. But he didn’t end there. We have been empowered by the Holy Spirit to serve. All of this so that He may be lifted high because to him belong glory and dominion forever and ever.
SO WHAT? I want to give a couple of quick examples of how serving benefits the body. This weekend, ____ volunteers served in 24 Hours for Him. Because of their service to the body, children were able to be taught the word of God and hear the gospel preached. If there were no people willing to serve, that would not have happened. I had 2 children that had a wonderful time and probably made memories that they will remember for a long time. Another example. Imagine a new believer comes to church and they have an 8, 4, and 2 year old children. This person is eager to learn more about Christ. They want to grow as believer in Christ. Imagine how difficult that would be if we had nobody to watch their children and teach them the truths of scripture. Let me tell you, serving by teaching preschool or children is vital so that parents can be fed and encouraged. Serving by teaching youth or adults can challenge their learners to grow in their faith. Serving by volunteering to help lead in worship benefits the body. Serving by driving a van to pick up children at the Hope Center provides the opportunity for children to hear the gospel. Serving by helping in the Kitchen helps facilitate fellowship for believers around the dinner table. Serving by carrying a refrigerator up 3 flights of stairs at We-Haul may be the difference between someone who hears the gospel and one who doesn’t. It can’t happen if we don’t serve! As I said at the beginning, you cannot experience fullness in Christ-centered living without being engaged in worship, connecting with others through relationships, serving the body, and reaching others with the gospel of Jesus Christ. The scripture makes this very clear. So let me ask two questions,
1. How are you serving the body?
2. Where are you serving the body? I hope you are able to answer these questions this morning with specificity. However, I am aware that we have some here this morning that are not able to answer these questions in the affirmative. Let me quickly provide 2 barriers to serving others:
1. Pride—Pride is one of the things we can find ourselves enslaved to. Pride can be a barrier in our relationship with Christ. It keeps us from recognizing our sin and confessing it. 1 John 2:16 says: For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. When we are prideful, we consider ourselves above any act of service. Pride keeps us from serving others.
2. Selfishness—This can be associated with pride, but it is in my opinion, one of the biggest barriers to serving others. If we were to be honest, we would rather be served rather than serve others. This shouldn’t come as a shock because that is the MO for this world. That is standard operating procedure. But as believers, we no longer operate according to the manual of this world. Listen to what Paul wrote in Philippians 2:3-4: Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Do you want everything to revolve around you? Let me tell you, we all battle that because we are still putting to death selfishness. And yet, we must take deliberate action to put away our selfishness and serve others. I want to say something very direct here. If you are a believer here this morning and you have not moved beyond the pew to connecting with others and serving the body, then you need to take some serious inventory. I am not trying to offend you or shame you. I am simply trying to speak truth in love. Dr. Don Whitney wrote: So one of the clearest indications that a person has believed the gospel of Jesus is that his selfish desire to be served begins to be overcome by a Christlike desire to serve. He starts looking for ways to do something for Christ’s church, especially in ways that will serve the gospel. I want to encourage you to experience fullness in Christ-centered living by being involved in serving the body. Serve the body not out of guilt, but out of joy for our heavenly father has redeemed us from slavery to become one of his forever children. Only fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you. 1 Samuel 12:24