the service of the saints
SCRIPTURE: 1 Corinthians 16
For they refreshed my spirit and yours also. Such men deserve recognition. [1 Corinthians 16:18]
In this reading we get a glimpse of how the churches can mutually bless and support each other as they serve the Lord in their respective areas:
- an offering taken in Corinth and Galatia for the church in Jerusalem
- Paul serving in Ephesus, but also planning to bless the churches in Macedonia, and in Corinth
- Timothy visiting, and being cared for in Corinth
- Apollos being torn about staying with Paul and visiting Corinth
- the household of Stephanas serving the saints
- the blessing that Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus gave to Paul when they came to him in Ephesus
- the greetings (and holy kisses) from the churches in Asia and from Aquila and Priscilla
- the personally written letter from Paul himself
We need to be a blessing to other believers beyond our own circle, and not just huddle together with those who are close to us!
“Teacher,” said John, “we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us. [Mark 9:38-40]
Jesus reminds us that we need to look beyond those in our own circle, to see other believers of other churches as on our team.
Do not stop them, rather bless them!
This is what we see happening in 1 Corinthians 16.
This is what we ought to see more of among churches today.
We are all on the same team, we are not competitors.
Churches locally, nationally and internationally should recognize their common bond, and strive to mutually encourage wherever and however possible.
Not just to those that share our creeds, or belong to our denominations, or come from the same race or culture.
Each believer, and each community of believers, has something to share with community of believers worldwide, what Paul calls the service of the saints [1 Corinthians 16:15].
This does happen to some extent, especially among like-minded churches.
But wouldn’t it be awesome if we saw more mutual fellowship and blessing among different, unrelated churches?
Its great that Crossroads regularly meets with other Christian Reformed churches, but can we be a blessing, and be blessed by, the Tamil church or charismatic Jamaican church around the corner from the ministry center?
Do we even acknowledge the existence of each other?
Lord, help me to follow through by connecting with these neighbouring churches as soon as possible. May I be blessed, and a blessing!