Thoughts of a Living Christian

Musings of an amateur theologian and hopeful writer

Church as a Serving Community

This argument is summed up in the first two sentences of Harper and Metzger’s ninth chapter: “The life of the church in the world is always meant to be incarnational. As such, the church is to represent in its service to humanity the incarnation of Christ, who came not to be served but to serve.”[1] Philippians 2:5-11 serves this very point. They continue, quoting Galatians 6:10, to say that Christians must serve all people, especially each other and that service “builds community in its fullest sense.”[2]

Our attitude should be the same as that of Christ, who took on the nature of a servant and became obedient to the most gruelling of tasks. Honestly, the church does not look like a collection of people who have taken this Pauline command of humility seriously. But then again, only the one most deserving of glory can take on the most undeserving of punishment. By this I further mean that only the manifestation of the triune God could be so fully selfless. Sinful man could not possibly follow suit.

Yet, as human beings, we are still called, as a church, to this selfless servitude; “The service of the church flows out of the self-giving love of the Trinitarian God who gives himself as a servant to humanity…To be human in the image of the Trinitarian God means to love others with a love that is costly and self-sacrificing.”[3] Harper and Metzger’s chapter portrays a seemingly impossible idyllic example of the church. To live as a serving church seems remarkably difficult, and arguably impossible for sinful humans to attain, but yet we are still called to such humble service. We are called to this service, yet only Christ can fulfil it.

Funny how everything returns to our dependence on Christ![4]

References

Grenz, Stanley J. Theology for the Community of God. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1994.

Harper, Brad, and Paul Louis Metzger. Exploring Ecclesiology: An Evangelical and Ecumenical Introduction. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group, 2009.


[1] Brad Harper and Paul Louis Metzger, Exploring Ecclesiology: An Evangelical and Ecumenical Introduction (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group, 2009). 155. I posed the idea of Christ coming not to be served, but to serve to a small group of teenagers I lead a bible study with, who were relatively confused by this notion, causing a hesitance in discussion – especially in regard to our imitation of it!

[2] Ibid. 155. While not disagreeing with this point, in his analysis of ecclesiology and service, Grenz notes that service is largely found in evangelism and outreach, and that this is at the root of the purpose of the church; “The mission of the church includes inviting others to make the “good confession” and thereby enter into the fellowship. Our task, however, is not limited to the expansion of the church’s boundaries. Rather, it includes sacrificial ministry to people in need. Outreach, therefore, entails service.” (Stanley J. Grenz, Theology for the Community of God (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1994). 505-506).

[3] Harper and Metzger. 156.

[4] Much, much more can be said, especially in regards to an incarnational ecclesiology and the use of the word ‘especially,’ referring to our service of other Christians. However, in my opinion, the more poignant question is how, and if, the church should attempt to imitate such humble service.

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3 thoughts on “Church as a Serving Community

  1. “Love does not begin and end the way we seem to think it does. Love is a battle, love is a war; love is a growing up.” ~ James A. Baldwin

    • “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:10).

    • “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” (Rom. 5.8-10). Love really is a war! A war which God has won!

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