Growing Disciples – Part Three
“It was [Jesus] who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.” – Ephesians 4:11-12
Followers of Jesus are people who are growing, maturing daily by God’s grace into the likeness of Jesus. This process of maturity includes knowing the foundational, biblical truths about God, but it’s about more than knowledge. Maturing Christians are also people who daily they give themselves away for the sake of the Gospel. The apostle Paul affirms that every Christian is given a gift, a talent that is to be used – not for our own benefit but for the benefit of the entire body of Christ. When we use our gifts to serve one another the body, the Church, is built up.
In all living things there is an inflow and an outflow – a breathing in and breathing out. And that’s true in our Christian life as well. If all we do is study the Bible or come to church to enjoy the worship service, but we never pour our lives out in service for the sake of the Gospel, we will never mature. I know many Christians who know lots of information, but because they have not put what they know into practice they’ve experienced very little transformation. They are not much more like Jesus today than they were a year ago.
In Ohio I was part of a small group of guys who gather for Bible study at 6:30AM on Thursday mornings. A few months ago we decided that God was calling us to serve together outside of ourselves. God has fed us through his Word; now it was time we went out and fed others. We got connected with a ministry called Harbor on the Hill. It’s a program that meets on Saturday evenings at our urban campus and helps released convicts get their lives back together.
That evening our job was to provide the meal. I’ll be honest – on my drive to the Harbor on that first Saturday I thought to myself, “A church basement is really the last place I want to be on a Saturday night. I can think of a thousand things I’d rather be doing.” But that attitude didn’t last long. The guys we served weren’t just grateful for the food, they were inspiring. Their stories of struggle, the depth of their faith, their dedication to make a difference, their joy in simple things – it was incredible. By the time dinner was over I knew two things – I had received far more than I gave, and there was no place on earth I would rather have been on that Saturday night. That’s what happens when we serve.
Jesus’ life was defined by love and service, and God made us to love and serve others. You will never be more like Jesus than when you are pouring out your life in love and service to others. And you will never be more richly blessed than when you pour out your life for others for the sake of the Gospel.
Bringing It Home
1. When was the last time you poured out your life in service to others for the sake of the Gospel? How did the experience impact you and your faith?
2. How can you develop a lifestyle of service? What concrete steps could you take in the next week? Talk to God about it. Ask a Christian friend.
3. Decide to put your vision into action. Pray for God’s blessing and guidance as you try to grow as a disciple of Jesus.
Father, your word says that your Son emptied himself, taking on the form of a servant, pouring out his life for us. I’m moved by his example, but on my own I am unable to change my heart and become more selfless. I need your help. Send the power of your Holy Spirit to free me from myself, and to free me for a life of service, of pouring myself out in service for the sake of the Gospel. In your strong name I pray. Amen.
Prince of Peace, Burnsville, MN