It’s no secret that we live in a consumer society.
Our economy is based on buying and selling, whether it’s things as simple and necessary as groceries or as unnecessary as trinkets. Where there is a market, items will be offered and consumed.
In many ways, it’s passive: most of us do not farm what we eat, and most of us do not make our own trinkets.
In simpler times, and in a more rural economy, most people farmed their own food and did not buy unnecessary items. It was more active.
The times being what they are, the consumer economy has leaked into other areas of life, too, not least the church. We have, in some ways, become religious consumers: we gather for worship, in person or online, and we take it in, but that’s where it ends.
But the church was not designed for that. God put the church in place to be a growing organism, one in which people not only received, they gave.
Yes, that includes financial giving, which is necessary for any number of things from paying the preacher to keeping the lights on, but it also involves serving: we participate actively in the work of God’s Kingdom, in ways for which God has equipped us.
Some are gifted to teach. Others are gifted to repair things. Still others are gifted to care for others. All followers of Jesus have special abilities to serve in the body of Christ, and each is called by the Lord to use those special abilities in some way that edifies the church and helps it grow.
Do you know your spiritual gifts? You should, because if you don’t, you may be convinced that you don’t have any special ways to serve, and may end up being a religious consumer.
We may start out that way, finding a relationship with God and consuming in order to grow in that walk with the Lord, but it can’t be an end in itself: we must find avenues for service. We can’t just rely on the “religious professionals” to do the work of ministry; it is a calling that is placed on each follower of Jesus.
And our model for this is none other than Jesus himself! He tells us in Mark 10.45 that “the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many” (NLT).
Ponder that verse today, and consider how you might best serve in your local church; I am certain that if you approach your pastor with a heart to serve, you will be gratefully put to work in an area of your gifting.
If you don’t know what your gifts are, let me know, and I can help you with that.
Don’t just consume; serve. After all, it was likely someone who used his or her gifts that helped you come into relationship with the Lord in the first place, and you can do the same for someone else.
Don’t just consume; serve.