March 21, 2022, 12:02 PM

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. 1 Corinthians 12:4-6

We've heard a lot of "the church is not a building," "the people are the church," and "the church never ends" language since March 2020, when the pandemic halted regular gatherings as a church inside the walls of a building. Before that, most of the ways our culture viewed church looked something like this: getting up on Sundays, rushing to get ready and out the door, arriving at church, saying hello to friends we haven't seen since last week, getting our kids into their classrooms, grabbing some coffee, heading into the sanctuary, shaking hands with the people next to you, participating in the worship service, squeezing back out of the aisles like a flock of sheep going through a gate, making your way out of the parking lot and heading to lunch. 

When the pandemic shifted this norm, we all had to redefine what the church is without the typical Sunday schedule. So, how do we define church? What does it mean for us to be the church? Is it when we gather together? Is it when we are in our favorite seats in the auditorium? Is it when we worship? Is it sitting and listening to a sermon? Is it when we pray?

I would say that we are the church in everything we do and everywhere we go. Church is how we live, not the moments encompassing our Sunday routine. Ekklesia, the Greek word for church, means gathering or assembly. His ekklesia, His assembly, His people. The term can be used in other ways but is never unrelated to gathering. It is never used to describe something that a person does alone. It requires people. It's the assembling of His people.  

A primary component of how we live our life as the church, as His ekklesia, is through serving. As followers of Christ, our mission is to live as Jesus did. Matthew 20:28 states, "just as the son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." This is one of the many defining texts of how Jesus lived while on earth. Living a life of service is God's people living like Jesus to reflect His kingdom on earth. We serve our family, coworkers, friends, neighbors, strangers, and sometimes people we will never meet. Not only is this sacrificial of our time and resources, but it is also worship. It makes us more like Jesus. Serving is our contribution to life with God together for the world. Serving is our contribution to the ekklesia.

Today's scripture tells us that we are all given gifts and abilities to serve and reflect His kingdom on earth. These gifts are provision from our Father to us that we offer and steward for the benefit of our community. His people have the opportunity to express and steward our different gifts, talents, or resources to the community around us. God works through our stewardship and expressions uniquely. We each have something to contribute to His kingdom, not because of who we think we are or what we believe we have to offer, but because He designed and gifted us. 

We get to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. We advance His kingdom when we put our gifts into motion through serving. It is not something we can do in isolation. It requires us to be in a relationship with those around us. It requires community. Community is how we participate in God's world. It is the relational space through which God's love is exchanged, experienced, and expressed. We meet people and do life with those in our community. We serve alongside other believers. We become responsible not only for ourselves but also for everyone we interact with and encounter. 

As we serve alongside others, they are serving alongside us. This cooperative exchange allows us to be on the receiving end of their gifts, talents, and resources. We are doing life with God together for the world. What gifts, talents, and resources do you have that you think God wants you to steward for your community? Take a moment to pray, asking God to reveal how you can serve as a part of His church.

PRAYER: Father God, thank you for the gifts you have given me. Help me to understand them and use them to serve my community. Thank you for the times I have been blessed by how those around me steward what you have given them. In the same way, help me to be a blessing to others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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