New Testament Christianity by J B Phillips
10. CHRISTIAN SERVICE
The early vigorous Church was
essentially a working, serving, and forward‑looking Church. Partly
because of a sensitivity to the Spirit's direction and partly because of the
rising tide of persecution, the
We may be full of joy, but we are not here for our own amusement. We are here to be used as instruments in God's Purpose. It is a fine thing to know that we are "right with God", "converted", "born again", and all the rest of it; but after a while such experiences become stale and unsatisfying unless we are passing the Good News on to others, positively assisting the work of the Church, or definitely bringing to bear upon actual human situations the pattern of Christian living. This means, in effect, that each individual Christian must ask himself: "Am I myself outward‑looking in my Christian experience, or am I content to remain in a safe 'Christian rut'." The recovery of the Church's power rests ultimately upon the individual Christian's answer to such a question.
Coming down to actual practice, the Christian has to ask himself what he can do to express outwardly and effectively his inward spiritual certainty. Obviously his first duty is to live a Christian life in his home and in his place of work. This is where his witness is most effective and frequently most difficult, but busy‑ness in Church affairs is no substitute whatever for exhibiting Christian graces in the home or being known as a Christian in our place of work. But, assuming that we have seriously considered our ordinary Christian life and witness, we ought also, as members of the Church, to think seriously of what our contribution should be in terms of time, personality, and talent to the life of the Church to which we belong. I have already referred to the horrifying paucity of leaders in most of our Churches, of men and women who will take responsibility and work at a job for the love of Christ and His Church. The influence of the Christian fellowship upon children, upon adolescents, upon the community in which the Church's life is set, would be vastly enhanced if even half the existing Church members were to give a single hour of dedicated service every week to their Church. Of course to do such thing even at the one hour‑per‑week rate is costly, and hundred different excuses crowd readily into the mind. But if the Church is to revive and become once more ablaze with the truth of God and full of the warmth of His love, its members must be prepared to meet the cost and make the sacrifice. The by‑product will be, of course, the maintenance of a high level in the spiritual life of the individual members. For the real danger to professing Christians lies not in the more glaring and grosser temptations and sins, but in a slow deterioration of vision, a slow death to daring, courage, and the willingness to adventure.
I cannot refrain from bringing this to a personal point. Our gifts vary enormously; we cannot all be evangelists, pastors, or teachers. We cannot all be leaders or bear great responsibility; but there is certain to be something, some worth‑while piece of service, which only you the reader can do. It may be exciting, it may be humdrum, it may be participating in a new venture, or it may be a mere routine. The apparent importance of it does not really matter; what is of real consequence both to your Church and to your own soul is whether you are willing to give yourself sacrificially.
on to 11. Some Conclusions