To Love is to Serve
September 10, 2020 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
This past Sunday I mentioned my first missions trip. It was to Jamaica to help build a school for deaf children. I was fifteen years old. The long-term missionary led our devotions each morning and he repeated the phrase, “To love is to serve.” If we are going to love people, we must serve people. That phrase was cemented into my mind and has shaped my life and ministry since.
In 1 Peter 4:8-10, the apostle calls the church to “keep loving one another,” “show hospitality to one another,” and “serve one another.” As I learned so many years ago, there is a link between loving someone and serving that person. I have also learned there is another link between love and serving. To serve together increases our love for one another.
That trip to Jamaica was not my last missions trip. I returned to Jamaica three more times to work at the school for the deaf. I have been to Mexico a dozen times to help build homes and churches for migrant native Mexicans. I have been to Warm Springs twice to serve with Sacred Road. I have traveled to Athens, Haiti, and Cameroon to serve in the education of indigenous ministers. In all these missions trips, this principle has been reaffirmed every time: To serve together increases our love for one another. The teams I traveled with always came home with a greater love and affection for one another.
This applies to the church as well. The last few weeks, we have seen from Scripture God’s vision for the church. It is to be a loving and affectionate community of believers. And the church is to be an active serving community, serving one another and those outside of the church. These two objectives for the church are not to be isolated. The more we serve together, the more we will be unified and love one another.
Paul understood this when he challenged the church at Philippi. He wrote, “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel” (Phil. 1:27). All three components of Oak Hills’ vision is found in this verse.
- Rooted in the Gospel: “Let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ.” Our lives will be shaped into a “worthy manner” when the gospel takes root in our hearts and minds. There is no “worthy manner” of the gospel apart from the gospel.
- Growing in Community: “You are standing firm in one spirit.” This is the result of the gospel shaping our lives. We become a community unified around our Savior.
- Blessed to be a Blessing: “Striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.” As an outflow of our community, we serve one another, seeking to build up each other’s faith and see others come to faith in Christ.
Notice the link between the community and the serving. Service is a result of a growing community. Service also is the unifying force for community. Love for one another doesn’t necessarily grow merely by focusing on one another, but love grows as we serve together for the sake of the gospel.
Church family, how are we going to serve together? If we do not stand side by side, striving for the faith of the gospel, our love for one another will stagnate. Let’s let our manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ.