Romans 12:10,13 “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love....Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”
Over a hundred years ago, the great evangelist Dwight L. Moody made an observation about church that I think is still true today. He noticed that the vast majority of church people think that church is a place to come and rest –to be refreshed and renewed and empowered to go face another week.
While there is a sense, I suppose, in which church is a place of refreshment and rest, it is supposed to be more than that. If all of us come on Sunday morning with a mind set of demanding that my own needs get met in a manner and style that I personally find comfortable, there are going to be a lot of other people that end up falling through the cracks and getting hurt.
Let me give you a mental image to hang on to. Picture in your mind a tightrope walker at the circus, 100 feet in the air, high above the center ring. Picture this tightrope walker walking slowly and carefully across the wide-open space high above, and then his foot slips –he falls. Although it all happens in a moment, it’s a very intense moment –everyone in the audience gasps –and then a collective sigh of relief as the tightrope walker lands safely in the net below.
That a safety net is something like what God has in mind for His Church to be –a safety net to catch people when they fall. If we are going to be the church God desires us to be, we have to be a functional net. This is a very practical matter; it’s not about how nice we look; it’s not about style; it doesn’t matter a whole lot exactly what programs we have and don’t have; it doesn’t matter too much which publishing company’s curriculum we use with the kids in children’s church; it doesn’t really matter how the chairs are set up in the sanctuary. We all have preferences –and that’s ok, but much of what consumes the time and energy of the average church goer, doesn’t actually make a whole lot of difference in the bigger scheme of things. What does make a difference, however, is making sure that when someone is falling –when somebody needs the safety net –our net holds.
Any given Sunday as we gather in all sorts of churches, some of us are truly hurting, needing to land in the safety net. I'm sure that no follower of Jesus wants the safety net to break –do we? I believe that we all want to do our part to make sure that the church functions as it ought. So, let’s talk about how we become the safety net that holds –let’s talk about how we become the church that is there when people are hurting and afraid and confused and struggling.
When the church is functioning properly –when we are devoted to each other and love one another, and care about each other, we develop ministry sensitivity. We learn to detect and recognize needs in others –we notice when others are struggling –we notice when others are hurting, and we mobilize to meet the needs.
Ministering to the needs of people around us, especially the needs of other Believers, especially the needs of those in our own fellowship, is an activity that all of us have a privilege and a responsibility to do. We are all called to serve and minister to one another.
The bottom line is this: Get involved in the ministry of your church. For the sake of Christ and the better good of His Body, don’t withhold what you have to offer. Don’t be content to come and be ministered to, look for ways in which you can minister to others. Take the initiative in ministry. Look out for the needs and the feelings and struggles and the hurts of others, and use what God has given you -do what you can to help. And whatever you do, do it cheerfully and enthusiastically, just as if you were doing it for Jesus himself.