PRAY daily. WORSHIP weekly. READ your Bible regularly. SERVE at, through, and beyond your congregation.
RELATE with others in inviting and faith-growing, ways. GIVE a 10% tithe of your income.
(These “Faith Practices” are God-shaped activities that help us grow into spiritually-healthy followers of Jesus. As the Danish philosopher/theologian Soren Kierkegaard once said, “Christianity cannot simply be a doctrine to be taught, but a life to be lived.” These “Marks of Discipleship” are found all throughout Scripture. Lived out with intentionality, these particular behaviors enable us to grow much more fully in the experience of being modern-day disciples.)
You might notice that the first three “faith practices” (Pray, Worship, Read) have, in part, an “inward” or “spiritual” dimension to them, which is vital to our genuine growth as people of faith. The next three practices (Serve, Relate, Give) tend to have a more “outward” expression. Both directions are vital and necessary as we continually seek to become intentional followers of Jesus.
When the prophet Micah told the people of his day how to practice faith, he encouraged them to “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God” (Micah 6:8). When Jesus was asked about ultimate matters, part of his response was “to love your neighbor as yourself”.
Practicing justice and doing acts of mercy put our own flesh upon God’s love. Serving others in Jesus’ name in active, tangible ways embodies Christ’s presence, it helps those we serve where they truly have need, and it is a witness to all who are watching from the sidelines about the real integrity and heart of Jesus’ followers.
Remember… Jesus didn’t simply address the spiritual needs of the people he met. His was a very real, hands-on ministry that addressed human needs for health, wholeness, and inclusion.
In 1st Corinthians 12:4-7, St Paul writes these words… “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit who gives them. There are different ways of serving, but the same Lord is served. There are different abilities needed for various ministries, but the same God who gives those particular abilities. The Spirit’s presence is manifested in some way in each of us, for the good of all.” What wisdom do you hear in these verses?
In his book “Real Faith for Real Life”, Pr Mike Foss writes: “The church that lives to serve only its members has stopped being a church and has become a club.” What are your thoughts on this statement?
Mother Teresa once said, “God loves the world through you and me.” How are you living out these words?
As we purposefully find ways to serve others in Jesus’ name, we become conduits of God’s healing love. Grace flows through us and our actions out into a grace-hungry world. Our aim in doing so is not to “save souls” or convert others to our particular way of believing. Our intent is not to display ourselves as being “true believers”. Our goal is to humbly and courageously live-out our baptismal identity as the body of Christ for the sake of the world.
Creating a Good Habit of Serving…
What steps can we take to cultivate a sense of thinking and acting as servants of God… not only as it relates to our active participation in church work, but to every other area of our lives, as well?
- Remember that serving is not about me. It is about humbly making a positive impact upon the lives of others.
- Be aware of when I may need to shift my perception or my approach.
- Think like a steward, not an owner.
- Focus on my work and not what others are doing (or not doing).
- See ministry as an opportunity, not an obligation.
- Ask God to give me the mind of Christ, so I can see the way God sees.
- Look for opportunities to make myself available to serve.
- Give my best to whatever I do.
- And finally… finish what I start, even if I get discouraged.