Anita and I hosted our Community Group this past Sunday and, as usual, had a wonderful time of food, fellowship, prayer, etc. As things began to wind down we noticed the servant-hearted Eric Bartz over at the sink washing dishes. Anita said something like, "Thanks for doing that Eric, sorry that our dishwasher is broken." Without missing a beat Eric replied, "No, your dishwasher is fine; Burt is standing right next to me."
While I know Eric was only being humorous, he was also speaking very prophetically ... he was speaking forth a great truth ... I literally have been washing a whole lot of dishes, pots, pans, utensils, etc. Not only my, but we've all been doing our share of dish-washing. And the reason why is very simple - we value clean dishes; this is important to us so we work to get the job done. Sure, we intend to eventually repair/replace the dishwasher but in the meantime we've not allowed, nor will we allow, the sink to overflow with dirty dishes and pots. And amazingly, there hasn't been any grumbling, complaining, arguing, or fuming over the issue. Again, the reason is that we value clean dishes so we all willingly and sacrificially contribute toward this goal.
As Community Presbyterian Church moves deeper into this new year of 2017 it will most certainly become clear what we value. I believe this same principle holds true in church families just as it does in biological ones ... if something is highly valued then everyone will contribute what they can to make sure the job gets done. We won't sit around complaining, arguing, and grumbling over what's not done ... rather we'll all be a part of the solution.
So what does CPC claim to value? doctrine - discipleship - children - mission - worship - equipping - holiness - stewardship - youth - mercy - fellowship - etc. This list could go on and on so how do you narrow it down? And while we all deem these things as important and necessary we know that one person can't really be heavily involved in all of them. In 1 Corinthians 12 we see that the church (body) has many parts and each part has a unique function. Perhaps a key is to discern your particular gifting and then get involved in that area as best you know how. This is the Lord's body (church) and He has assembled it just as He desires. We must trust Him to build and guide us, His church.
Yet I believe there is something of value that far surpasses all these various ministries and aspects to the church. After Paul instructs the church in Corinth about the unity of the church and the loving use of spiritual gifts (1 Cor 12-14) he then immediately reminds them in 15:1-4 what is of "first importance" - the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, i.e. the Gospel.
So here's what I conclude ... we must value the Gospel more highly than any and everything else. As this happens we no longer pit one ministry against another ... that discipleship is more vital than fellowship, or that children's ministry is more important than mercy, etc. When the Gospel is valued above all else we begin to see needs and opportunities as Gospel issues, not competing demands. As Paul said, "For as the body is is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body - Jews or Greeks, slaves or free - and we were made to drink of the one Spirit." (1 Cor 12:12-13). It is Christ that unites us; we belong to Him and our unity with one another is because we've all been united to Him. When we value the Gospel above all else, the work of the church gets done!
So the question is, "What do you value?" Though we may all have preferences, giftings, and passions about particular ministries, the key to getting it all done is the Gospel. The Gospel breaks down whatever walls exist and brings us together so that we're not just a bunch of independent contractors trying to accomplish our own agenda, rather we're working together, supporting one another, working on something much higher than the particular visible task at hand. Let's value the Gospel and then start washing whatever dishes you see that need to be washed.