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Monday, January 5, 2015

Fundamental Questions of the Christian Life # 25

The Imperative Dynamic of Christian Service

John 21:15-17

"So when they had broken their fast, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of John, lovest thou Me more than these? He saith unto Him, Yea, Lord; Thou knowest that I love Thee. He saith unto him, Feed My lambs. He saith to him again a second time, Simon, son of John lovest thou Me? He saith unto Him, yea, Lord; Thou knowest that I love Thee. He saith unto him, Tend My sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of John, lovest thou Me? Peter was grieved because He said unto him the third time, Lovest thou Me? And he said unto Him, Lord, Thou knowest all things; Thou knowest that I love Thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed My sheep."

"Lovest Thou Me?"

In reading these verses, it is difficult not to believe that the Lord Jesus had in mind something that happened earlier, and was probably referring to it. I mean the incident recorded in Matthew 26:33: "Peter answered and said unto Him, If all shall be offended in Thee, I will never be offended." "Lovest thou Me more than these?"

There are four main aspects of the Christian life - of course, with many subsidiary aspects. We have been considering three of them, and shall make reference to them again shortly. These three lead up to the fourth, and find their expression in it. This fourth aspect is service. Service is the great inclusive issue of everything. You notice that all four of the Gospels head up to commission and service. Service is the issue, therefore, of the three and a half years of our Lord's ministry, and especially of the relationship subsisting between Himself and the disciples during that period. All that which He had said to them, all that which He had allowed and caused them to see, had this matter of service in view. He was working toward the day then He would have gone to Heaven and would continue His work through them. He was laying the foundation for that service. Everything had testimony in the world in view.

Now that word "service" is greatly misunderstood and misinterpreted. It is usually confined to certain specific forms. People speak of 'going into Christian service," or 'the Lord's work,' so some such expression, by which they mean some specific activity - either to be a "missionary" abroad, or a 'minister' at home, or some other particular form of Christian work. But that is a misinterpretation of the 'service'.

In the New Testament, service is contemplated in relation to the Church: individual service is always a related matter. It is the Church that is here to fulfill the ministry, and individuals are never looked upon in the New Testament as having detached, unrelated service. The great comprehensive conception is that of the Church as the Body of Christ. Immediately you contemplate that, your ideas of service must be completely revolutionized. For in a physical body the majority of the functions are not specific at all, but are vital, essential, indispensable. The whole service of the body depends upon them: the comparatively few specific functions can only possibly operate and fulfill their office by way of the countless unspecified functions of the body. And that is the New Testament conception of the Church and the Church's vocation.

We need therefore, to reconsider this matter of service, because when we relegate the work to certain people only, we forget, or overlook, the fact that it is impossible to be in the Body of Christ and not have a function. Everyone is supposed to be a functional part of the Church. Nothing is independent, unrelated, or separate.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 26 - (Peter: A Representative Servant)

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