When Paul was in the Areopagus in Athens, he made a statement that should perhaps make us think more than it does. He said, “And [God] is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything” (Acts 17:25a NIV). Think about that. God has no need of anything, especially our service. God is infinitely complete in Himself. This has major implications for how we view service in general.
Gospel Thankfulness Leads to Serving the Church
Mercy Hill is a Gospel-centered church. This means, in one sense, that we believe the motivation for all we do is found in the narrative of Christ’s birth, life, death, and resurrection. The call is that we serve because Christ has served us by taking God’s wrath for us on the cross and promising us eternal life with him—all by grace alone through faith alone. Jesus said, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45 ESV). This is a complete service of grace. This is a salvation that we have no hand in accomplishing. While this good news should make us joyful and thankful, when we take it in conjunction with Paul’s statement about our inability to serve God, we should think: “What shall I return to the LORD for all his goodness to me?” (Ps. 116:12 NIV)
Great Awakening pastor and theologian Jonathan Edwards reflects on this problem: “’What shall I return to the Lord for all his goodness to me?’ is the natural language of thankfulness: and so far as we have the ability, it is our duty to return goodness according to the goodness we receive. And, so we might have the opportunity to express our gratitude to God through good service (since he is infinitely above our reach) he has appointed others to be his receivers, and to stand in his place, as the objects of our service; especially our needy brothers and sisters in Christ.” (Freedom of the Will 3.1; my paraphrase)
What Edwards is saying should convict us. God gives the church the needy (and even allows them to be needy) that we might direct our thankful service in response to the Gospel towards them. And when we are completely honest with ourselves, we are all the needy. We all need to be supported. This is why the analogy of the “body” of Christ is so apt. Paul says in his letter to the Ephesians, “From [Christ] the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work” (4:16 NIV). Every part of the body must do its job for the body to be sustained.
The Church Serving and Being Served
Every local church context is different and is going to have different needs. There are individual needs and corporate needs. At Mercy Hill, we attend to individual needs through our Community Groups (if you are not in one, you can sign-up for Starter Groups here: http://mercyhillgso.com/startergroups/). As a corporate body, we strive to meet the deepest need of the world by presenting the Gospel clearly to as many people in the Triad as we can that the lost may be saved and believers equipped and encouraged. Since God has seen fit to bless our ministry of the Gospel and has brought us incredible attendance growth, many needs have been generated just in having to be ready for everyone that will show up on a Sunday or for an event. Yet, as Pastor Andrew says, God has also supplied the people necessary to meet those needs. Our serving Mercy Hill to make sure that our Sunday gathering and other events run smoothly has kingdom impact as people come to salvation by hearing the same Gospel that fuels our service.
Serving is Worship
And so, what does this mean for us practically? If you are serving the church, then remember that if God has allowed us to return the goodness he has shown us by our serving others, then serving is worship! Let us serve with the enthusiasm and joy that the Gospel supplies. “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people” (Eph. 6:7 NIV). And if you are not serving, then the way to start is by attending our Weekender event if you have not already. If you have attended the Weekender and have not been serving then On Ramp is for you. Sign up here: http://mercyhillgso.com/weekender/
– Alex Nolette (Equip Associate)