The Christian’s Service to God
Dear BPCWA worshipper, Today is Rededication Sunday, where all who serve will be taking their vows to rededicate ourselves to the service of our Lord. Many of us serve in some way in BPCWA. In our own homes, we will probably understand and agree that there is a continual and never-ending need to do something or other around the house. This understanding is even more needful around God’s house, our Christian home, with its many ministries, and a hive of activity many days a week. Why do we even bother to set aside a day each year for rededication of our service to God? This is because service is important for every child of God.
Much to be done. We have all been blessed to have many things run as clockwork around the church. Having our own church premises and grounds does mean that we need to maintain these as well. Having a variety of outreaches (like Nursing Home and University outreaches for example) and ministries (like Maintenance, Transport, and our YouTube ministries) will mean that we have more “to do” than some other churches. Not having church workers means that these are done by laypeople. Many put in much time and effort behind the scenes to ensure that things run smoothly. However, all of us must realise that the efficiency we may describe as being “like clockwork” isn’t due to any mechanical means of automation. It is often someone intently behind the scenes planning for the personnel, improving the processes, rostering, and ensuring that each step is done. This is a behind-the-scenes work that is very much needed for God’s church. It is far from “automatic” even though processes have helped to ease the burden. None of those serving are omnipotent and we all have limited time, strength, and energy. They use much of their personal and family time to serve in these areas. As I oversee the church, I know how much each person is serving and try to be conscious of distributing the load which each member takes up in service so that none are particularly overloaded.
As God gifts, we must use them to serve Him. At salvation, the Holy Spirit gifts “to every man to profit withal” (1Cor 12:7), and “all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will” (1Cor 12:11). Every believer has at least 1 spiritual gift and that this gift is to be used for His work. The “profit” that God speaks of here is not a financial profit but a spiritual profit that is obtained when these gifts are used for the benefit of His church. “All these worketh . . . Dividing to every man” means that there is a diversity of gifts assigned to different people, thus enabling the various works in God’s house to be met and souls profited. We thank God for the many who are using their abilities to serve the Lord, even when it requires long term commitment. But we must note that these gifts are not just skills. The list includes “administrations” and “operations” (1 Cor 12:5,6). The ability for a service to be done includes time, not just talent. For instance, the many tasks that must be done in church but outside of normal worship and fellowship hours require a person who is available – and it may be during work hours. If you are able, for whatever reasons, to do some of the Lord’s work at these hours, that is the ability that God has gifted to you too. Examples of such tasks include watching over workers or contractors who need to come in, time-sensitive tasks that need to be done at certain times each week, running errands to make purchases, or even ad-hoc roles when the building project starts. At the same time, many areas of service are also available in which everyone can participate without having to wonder if they’ve been specially gifted to do so. These include, for example, the Busy Bee, Nursing Home, or even the Transport ministries. It takes time but does not require particularly “special” gifts to be useful in these areas and hence many should be able to participate in these. At the same time, we must not forget that God gifts each of us also with a state or stage of life – marriage or singlehood, youthfulness or maturity being among them – which enables us to serve Him according to His purpose in that stage. A healthy young man in the strength of his youth would be able to lift tables or do more manually intensive tasks that an older person may not be able to. We are thankful for many who serve in these areas whether at our special events or the Seniors Fellowship lunch. A more mature and experienced person may be able to anticipate issues and responses and plan better than a young person would.
Limited resources. We are reaching a stage whereby those who are serving effectively and in the right manner are reaching their capacity in service. Many are doing the Lord’s work or in the Lord’s house almost every day. That is a good commitment to the Lord’s work and I wish that more would be such. But we are finite and with finite resources. Not being a big church means that our resources are also limited. Moreover, with our limited pool of resources, as people go through different life stages, we have had people stop serving or need to reduce their service in the different ministries. We are heavily dependent on a group that serves very busily in multiple ministries. Conversely, not being a big church also means that God gives much more opportunities to us, His children, to serve Him. Over the past year, many – even elderlies – have willingly stepped up to do more to fill the gap in areas of service that they have been approached and can do.
Upcoming stress on limited resources. At the same time, there is yet much to be done, and should we start the physical work on the church extension project, that need will escalate significantly. Those who are currently serving will be also busier with the additional commitment of the building project. This means that building and maintenance will over the next few years be the additional help that we will need in the church. Meeting contractors, checking out prices, comparing vendors or materials, doing labour-intensive shifting or moving tasks to enable the building task to start, checking quality and cleanup of contracted work, etc are some of the many tasks that we do pray for more help on. We must lift up spiritual praying hands to the Lord that many will be willing to help in these areas if they are able to. When the time comes, let us also lift up physical hands in His work as we pray! While we must pray that God will continue to provide for His work, I am also conscious of human responsibilities as we depend on Him. There is a possibility that we may reach a stage in which, in order to not have to cut back on key ministries and operations, we may need to consider outsourcing certain tasks. In some purely administrative areas, we may need to pay for firms to handle these aspects, just as we currently pay for the annual audit of our financial reports. These are not ideal situations because not only does outsourcing cost a lot more (and hence reduce our available funds for God’s work), external firms also do not share our values. Even if we are a church with our own set of beliefs and values, they may push to impose the world’s values upon us. They work on their commercial timelines and priorities.
The night cometh, when no man can work. Our Lord’s attitude in serving the Father is, “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work” (Joh 9:4). That window of service may soon or suddenly close upon us if we do not use it for Him at His appointed time. Let us remember that all we have is of God and is not our own. God gifts us with these to be used for Him. The window for the exercise of these is limited for everyone. The thinking that we must remember in this aspect is to use it “as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1Pe 4:10). Your window is shortening even as you read this. Whatever our age, let us be found in the active service of the Lord while the Lord enables us to do so at this (and every) stage of our lives, while He gives us the ability to be of use to Him with our health or gifts.
Let us rejoice and be thankful for those that God has enabled to serve Him in these areas. But let us also not forget to pray earnestly, as we do at every prayer meeting, that God will continue to move and work to provide for His work through people fit for that service. We rejoice today at the many that have stood up to rededicate their service to the Lord. We must understand that service is an essential part of every Christian’s walk. Let us use this occasion to also search ourselves if I am doing enough for the Lord’s work, or am I giving my leftovers to God – leftover time and leftover energies? We must seek to give of our best to our Master and desire to give of our all for His service, rightly honouring Him.
Rom 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
Yours in our Lord’s service,