“The Call to Serve” by vivi07


									“The Call to Serve” A sermon on God‟s Purpose for the church on Ministry and Service by Pastor Ron Trimmer July 29, 2007 Luke 10:25-37 25 Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” 27He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” 28And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.” 29But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. 31Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. 34He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, „Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.‟ 36Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” The Call to Serve This month, I have offered a series on purpose for our church, looking at areas of ministry and how Friedens is called to be and do as a church of Jesus Christ. We‟ve looked at worship and fellowship and evangelism. Last Sunday I talked about our call to become disciples of Jesus Christ: to mature into Christ, learning more about the Bible and nurturing our faith. We talked about how we do this for our adult members as well as our children and youth, noting what an important responsibility we have to help folks draw closer to our loving Savior. And today, we are going to talk about service, about ministry, about meeting needs and helping folks, being the hands and heart of our Lord Jesus Christ. Now, we realize that a church is called to all aspects of ministry. Like any person who has both gifts and weaknesses, churches too have areas where they are particularly strong as well as areas they need to pay greater attention to. Friedens is no different. But at the same time, we seek God‟s will, to help us as we mature as a congregation into the church we are called to be, growing into the likeness of Christ. As you might guess, it is the area of purpose we are talking about today that holds the greatest power over my own heart. I care about people, and want nothing more than folks to know there is a God in heaven who loves them and wants to be closer to them. Where words often fail us or seem inadequate, love as action can open a door and heal a heart better than anything else. There was a time in my life when I became adrift, unsure of the world, agnostic about God, becoming more and more cynical every day as I witnessed the suffering around me and all over


the world. I had given up on God, but God had not given up on me. Through friends, Bible study, and a whole lot of prayer, I heard the voice of our Lord speaking grace and love and encouragement. I found forgiveness; I found meaning; I found purpose, grounded in Jesus Christ. And God touched me in a powerful way, awakening within me this passion to do God‟s will and to follow in Jesus‟ footsteps. As my faith was being renewed and resurrected like the dawn on Easter morning, I took a job at a homeless shelter in Ames, Iowa ran by Vic Moss. Not only was Vic an inspiration to me—the one person more than any other who reminds me of the compassion and love in Jesus Christ, but it was the work itself, interacting with these homeless men which lighted a fire in my heart to do God‟s will. In all honesty, the work was pretty simple—I had to stay there at night, check people in, offer the men something to eat which was often brought in by a church group. But the Lord helped me to see these folks as real people in need of the love of God. Many homeless are mentally ill; many are Vietnam Vets. They just can‟t make it out there, and our nation has not done enough to help them. I fear for the veterans of the Iraq war, and I pray we take seriously our responsibility to support our men and women in the military, even after the war is over. But even though the work was simple, it was some of the most inspiring I‟ve ever been privileged to be a part of. When I entered seminary, I thought I‟d end up running a shelter somewhere, but God awakened other gifts in me and I realized through prayer I was called to serve a church. Service to God is powerful, my friends, and it can change your life. You start interacting with some of the “least of these,” dealing with them as real people, seeing them as Christ sees all of us and helping them in real and tangible ways, then I guarantee you will benefit from the experience. I won‟t lie to you; some days it about broke my heart to see what these folks go through. Sometimes you just feel like you are putting Band-aids on some really big and systemic problems. You see, when I began thinking about what I wanted to do for my sabbatical, my thoughts went to working with the homeless. If I am looking for renewal and passion again, what better place than to do the kind of work that inflamed my heart in the first place? And I hope, my friends, that you see this sabbatical time, not just as a time of renewal for your pastor, but also as an extension of the ministry of Friedens. You are allowing me to touch the lives of young people on the street, many who simply came out of the foster care system and had no where to turn, no parents to support them as they make the transition into adulthood. But the call to serve is not just for pastors, my friends. All of us who call on the name of Christ must show love and compassion … to each other, to the stranger outside our doors. If you look at Jesus‟ ministry, Jesus was all about meeting the real needs of people. If someone was sick, he healed them. If someone was blind, he opened their eyes. If someone couldn‟t walk, he fixed their leg. And he didn‟t just heal physical bodies either. Above all, Jesus ministered to the soul. He helped people; he met their needs. Not only did he forgive sins, restoring life, but he helped people see what was really missing in their lives, to fill the emptiness and the hopelessness and the aimlessness, to point them in the direction of God. What does the word repent mean but to turn around? Jesus taught us to put God first in our lives: to love God with all our being and our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus meets our deepest needs: helps us, restores us, sustains us, and the church must also be about meeting real needs.


Ray Pritchard, in his book The Lawyer Who Wanted a Loophole, puts it this way: Once upon a time a man fell into a pit and couldn‟t get himself out. A sensitive person came along and said, “I feel for you down there.” A practical person came along and said, “I knew you were going to fall in sooner or later.” A Pharisee said, “Only bad people fall into a pit.” A self-pitying person said, “You haven‟t seen anything until you‟ve seen my pit.” A mystic said, “Just imagine that you‟re not in a pit.” An optimist said, “Things could be worse.” A pessimist said, “Things will get worse.” Jesus, seeing the man, took him by the hand and lifted him out of the pit! Jesus, my friends, helps people out of the pits they fall into, and so must the church. Let‟s take a look at the parable of the Good Samaritan. A man is walking along when he runs into trouble. He gets mugged, beaten up, and is left for dead. Two religious authorities come walking by, but they diligently avoid the man in need. It is then the Samaritan, an outcast by Jewish standards, who takes cares of the man‟s needs. Now, I want you to realize that the very first thing the Samaritan did was to notice there was this guy there who was hurting and in pain. It‟s that he was aware that someone was in need. You know, some people in this world, in this nation, some of them supposedly good Christian people, still have not gotten it through their hardened hearts that there are people out there on our streets that are hurting, that are in need—kids who go to bed hungry, people living with addictions, moms without husbands who can‟t decide if they should stay on welfare or take the job at McDonald‟s or even the job at the hospital cleaning toilets cause they know they can‟t make enough to pay for child care. Yes, first as Christians we must become aware of those who are in need, whether physically, emotionally, or spiritually, cause believe me folks, they‟re out there, and they‟re not that far from our front doors. Scripture says the Samaritan “was moved with pity,” which really isn‟t the best way to translate this phrase in Greek. It just wasn‟t like he felt sorry for the guy. I mean the Samaritan was motivated to act with compassion. He went to him and got involved. He wasn‟t just going to stand by the sidelines or even just send a check to the local free clinic. He had to get his hands dirty, so to speak, dive right down into the problem at hand and get involved. He connected with the person in need, bandaged his wounds, cleaned him up. He took care of his needs. As a church, we need to become aware of people‟s needs, and this goes for our members as well as those living in our community. Providing services and doing acts of ministry often open doors for people, moves them in a way that touches their heart so that the Holy Spirit can do its thing. We first need to become aware that there are people out there that need Christ, and then we have to find real, tangible ways to show them that we care. We have to connect with people, get our hands dirty, be willing to get involved. And once the offer to care is made, once we reach out to another and show we accept them, we must be willing to give dedicated, comprehensive care, which fully respects the person, wherever they are upon life‟s journey. The Samaritan didn‟t abandon the guy or simply pull out a first aid kit and leave it with him. He took care of him, nursed him back to health, made sure he would


be ok. He even gave the innkeeper some money to sustain him. With a holistic approach to compassion, the Samaritan does what he can to ensure that healing will take place. And proper care can take some time. Let‟s be realistic. There are people out there who have closed off their hearts to God. Some are completely disenfranchised with the Church; and some have never heard the story of God‟s love. We need to have programs in place to help healing take place, to nurture and grow and strengthen a person‟s faith. And once the seed of grace takes a hold in a person‟s heart, we must develop ways to turn people who have heard the call into disciples of Christ. When I was talking to parents about confirmation the other day, Shelley James talked about how she attended an 11 week course on being a new parent at the Baptist church in Navasota. It was very helpful to her, but it also opened a door. She connected with people at that church, and I bet that if she didn‟t already have a church home, she may have gone to a service there or learned more about it. But the beauty of such programs is that they not only provide real service to our members, but they open doors, help people to get connected and more involved, and folks experience the love of God. We talk about wanting to get parents more involved in church. Well, maybe we need to start providing services for them that meets their needs. It could be programs on parenting or finances or how to manage your time when life gets so hectic. One of the best attended Men‟s Breakfast groups was when Jack Taylor had this financial planner come and talk about money. And the list goes on. How about a support group for widows? Or for young couples? How about letting AA meet at the church? Organizing a mother‟s day out or family time or game day? And because service is such a powerful force in faith, helping us to grow closer to our savior, it works the other way as well. I‟ve already noticed that those ladies who help out at the food pantry in Navasota are greatly blessed and have become more involved and passionate about doing God‟s work. Same way for the ladies who go to the nursing home to sing. But we could do more. What about a Habitat for Humanity group? Meals on Wheels? After school tutorial program? I talked with Anna Mohr the other day about helping out in the event of a death, and she talked about how she had never been as involved or active in a church as she is in ours. I could see this glow in her, and see how her faith had blossomed and grown and is still growing. Gifts are being awakened in her and she wants to do more and more. She is experiencing the blessing of God but more than that, she is a blessing. Albert Schweitzer once said, “I don‟t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found a way to serve.” The more you give, the more blessed you will be. It‟s what the call to serve is all about. Amen.


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