Guarding and proclaiming the unchanging truth in a changing world

In thanksgiving… for the Church and Christian Service (Ephesians 5:25)

18th November 2020
Audio: 

In thanksgiving… for the Church and Christian Service (Ephesians 5:25)

The Rt. Rev. Julian M. Dobbs

When we recognize that the Church belongs first to Jesus Christ and that He gave up his life on the cross for his church, we realize that the church is something that is holy and precious to God and that we who are members of the church by virtue of our baptism have been called into something that cost Christ his life on the cross.

When we see the church in these terms, we are helped in our understanding that the church (the community of believers) is something that rightly requires the investment of our lives in response to the sacrificial gift of Christ on the cross.

How then are we to make such an investment in the church?

We do so by recognizing that we are called to gather together regularly with other believers in the church to worship God.  This is one of the highest priorities we have as brothers and sisters in Christ.  In the upper room, the night He was betrayed, Jesus broke bread together with his disciples.  On the Day of Pentecost, the disciples were ‘all together in one place’.  The early church gathered together in homes, outdoors, in places of worship, but gather together they did and we are instructed in the word of God to do the same. The global COVID-19 pandemic has prevented many Christians from worshipping together in the manner to which we have been accustomed. However, worshipping together as Christians remains a priority for all believers.

As we carefully and wisely navigate this season, let us not neglect to meet together, in whatever way we are able in our context, but encourage one another, and all the more as we see the Day drawing near.

Another way we can make an investment in the church is through acts of Christian service and by using the gifts that Christ has given us to serve and support the mission and ministry of the church.

Peter writes, As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God 's varied grace. [1 Peter 4:10, ESV]

Every baptized Christian has received gifts from God and every baptized Christian is a steward of God’s varied grace.  

What work is Christ calling you to undertake?  Christ’s call for service in the church is not an optional extra for his cross-bearing disciples.  In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus vividly emphasizes this call to costly service when he says, “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” [Matthew 20:26-28, ESV]

Rt. Rev. Julian Dobbs
Diocesan bishop of the Anglican Diocese of the Living Word, a diocese in the Anglican Church in North America.

Prayer: 

I invite you to pray this prayer adapted from John Wesley's 1780 Covenant Service:

I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt. 
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee, exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty. Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
thou art mine, and I am thine. 
Through Christ our Lord, Amen.

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