How Can My Life Count?
Topic: Community Verse: 1 Thessalonians 5:11–5:11
How Can My Life Count?
1 Thessalonians 5:11
Theme: Fulfillment for the Christian is found in Christlike sacrifice for the welfare of others.
As believers, we recognize the unique and divinely sustained desire to connect with other believers for the purpose of seeking the glory of Jesus Christ. Ours is not a desire driven by tastes, preferences, styles, race, marital status, finances, academics, employment, gender, or any other segregator that characterizes secular relationships. Ours is completely unique. It is driven by the unquenchable desire for camaraderie in lifting up the glory of Jesus Christ. We desire to see the glory of Christ in His redeeming others, in making others overcomers, in sanctifying sinners and watching Him change them before our very eyes. There is a glee in the lift of people of love Jesus as they see Him doing glorious transformations in the lives of those around them. That glee intensifies in a believer when he or she is able to see Christ do His work through them! It becomes one of the delights of our faith – to serve Christ as we establish relationships with other for the purpose of being used by Christ to strengthen them in their faith. As we do this, we also observe the assembly of believers growing in grace and becoming more of what it ought to be. Our fulfillment as believers will never be known as completely as when we engage ourselves in actively using the gift of grace that God’s Spirit has invested in us for the purpose of building up the local church through fruitful relationships that advances each participant’s love for Jesus Christ.
III. Community: The Promotion of the “Common Good”
A. The Determination by the Spirit
- We return to the matter of how God’s intention for our participation in the Body of Christ to be a contributing role – not a receiving role.
- We are part of a project owned by God – with God determining how the church will grow – accomplished through the power and authority of Jesus Christ and then executed through the agency of the Holy Spirit – 1 Corinthians 12:4-6
- The varieties [διαίρεσις] of gifts that believers contribute are highlighted here, but we are reminded that they are not randomly encountered but masterminded and executed by the same Holy Spirit.
- There are also “varieties of ministries” [διακονία] that the Lord Jesus Christ assigns once people are gifted by the Spirit – people with the same gift may not use it in the same way – but the Lord will insure that it is used in building the church
- Finally, there are “varieties of effects” [ἐνέργημα] – a reference to the kinds of results or impact that ministries have in the life of the church is determined by the Father.
- The point to be emphasized here is that each believer is gifted by the Holy Spirit with a gift of grace – a spiritual gift – that is expressed, designed and bestowed for the sake of the “common good” – cp. 1 Corinthians 12:7
- This term is [συμφέρω] – referring to “bringing things together” or the “pooling of resources”
- This provides us the intention by God for spiritual gifts – it is never for the primary benefit of the individual who is gifted, but the “pooling” of our gifting to produce a whole – the synergy of gifting creates a force greater than any of its individual parts.
- Notice that the community exists for the growth of the Body of Christ to the glory of Christ – cp. Colossians 1:24
- When we abdicate God’s purpose for our giftedness, we not only lose the grace afforded through ministry, but we rob other believers for whom God has intended our gifting to benefit.
- Clearly the entire body of Christ is in view in the distribution of these gifts – yet the place where such gifting is most eloquently expressed is in continual, meaningful relationship with other believers.
B. The Devotion to the Body
- Each of us are gifted and then stirred up by God’s Spirit through spiritual leadership for the purpose of us all doing the ministry – cp. Ephesians 4:8, 11-13
- The notion of believers simply involving themselves in church for the purpose of receiving instruction from God’s Word is foreign to the Scriptures – it is in seeking the glory of Christ through edifying one another in our mutual faith.
- The expectation is that believers, in receiving the teaching from God’s Word, are to use it for the purpose of turning around and investing themselves in the lives of other believers.
- It is the strength of the church that we are all striving to see this investment achieved through however God has gifted and strengthened each individual.
- This requires that each of us be willing to extend ourselves in the following ways:
- Solidarity – we must find ourselves in contexts where we are able to find true unity of heart, mind, soul, and spirit with other believers in true fellowship – 4:13a
- Stretching – we must be willing to extend ourselves beyond where we are most comfortable, engaging with others on a level that causes growth pains – 4:13b
- Strength – we must be among those who lock arms with us about what we believe – keeping one another from the errors that our enemy seeks to foist upon us – 4:14
- Submission – we must be able to come under the authority of Christ with others who will provide accountability and allegiance to Christ – 4:15
- Supply – we provide what others need to likewise be edified and strengthened by what God’s Spirit chooses to supply through us – 4:16.
- It is through relationship with both Christ Jesus and one another that love is produced without which …
- Obedience become legalism
- Ministry becomes professionalism
- Fellowship becomes favoritism
- Joy becomes hedonism
- Truth becomes Intellectualism
- Evangelism becomes judgmentalism
- Missions becomes imperialism
- Unity becomes ecumenism
- Righteousness become idealism
- Peace becomes passivism.
- If you had to choose between ministries that you feel you need and the ministries in which you might be able to minister to others, which would you choose?
- For instance, if you have to choose between Sunday evening services and seeking to minister to others, I would encourage you to seek to minister to others (deprioritizing sitting under the ministry of the Word for football would be a different discussion altogether)
- If you had opportunity to exhort someone and love on them instead of going to Fellowship groups, I would encourage you to do that.
- Sunday AM Worship Service is truly the only assembly that the Scriptures state that we ought never deprioritize.
- Community groups are yet another way that you can apply yourself in an environment that is both give & take to the glory of Christ Jesus.
- It is impossible to exercise love for others without seeking their welfare above your own.
- It is possible that if you are not engaged in serving others within the Body of Christ that you are empty-souled and wondering why you have no true Christian joy.
- If you could only choose one thing in which to participate, it would be the Sunday Morning General Assembly; if you can do only one more than thing, Community Group would be among the most important opportunities from which to choose.
- Who alone has the right to determine what ministry you are designed to provide? What are the personal ramifications for you?
- For whose sake are the gifts of God’s grace given?
- What is the detriment of the “consumer mentality” that has developed in evangelical Christianity?
- How can “community groups” help you personally avoid a consumer mentality?