I hope you have enjoyed studying these people whose duties and deeds are not given much attention. The Spirit includes them for a reason. We tend to overlook them, but with a little study and thought, we discover they were involved in vital work.
Many times, I’ve heard Christians say, “I can’t be an elder, or a preacher, or that preacher, so I guess I’ll just be happy to sit on this pew.” That’s the wrong idea!
Sometimes the problem is that a congregation does not do a very good job encouraging people to explore their talents, nor motivating people to employ those talents.
Sometimes the problem is a congregation wishes to protect new converts or weak members from being taxed with work. We worry that saying, “Hey, I’m going to sign you up to bring food to the funeral Friday night, OK?” might drive them away.
For most people, being asked to contribute makes them feel like a valuable part of the church. No one likes to sit the bench for a whole season. The more quickly leaders of a congregation approach new converts to get involved, the more opportunities a congregation provides for them to spread their new wings, the stronger their faith becomes, and the closer they feel to the family of God.
In the same verse Lydia was baptized, she began contributing to the work of evangelism (Acts 16:15). In the same town Paul was baptized, he began proclaiming Jesus as the Christ (Acts 9:19-20). People aren’t as fragile as we think they are.
There’s an old story about a father and young son whose fishing boat flipped over in the waters off New England in January. They managed to get into the small open lifeboat, but were soaked through. They could see the lights of shore several miles away. It would take many hours, but they were confident they could reach shore. The father knocked the ice off the oarlocks, inserted the two oars, and began rowing. After a while, the son said, “Dad, you’re beginning to get tired. Let me take a turn at the oars.” Dad was feeling guilty for letting the fishing boat capsize, and also wished to spare his son from the backbreaking work. So, he told his son to curl up in the bow, that he would continue to row. Several times over the next few hours, the son offered to take a turn at the oars, and each time the father refused, telling him to relax and be patient, for they would be home soon. The boy grew silent, while the father doggedly rowed on. Hours later, as dawn approached, the father nearly incoherent with fatigue felt the bow of the rowboat touch the shore. With new vigor and excitement he leaped out onto the beach, crying, “We are saved!” But when he attempted to share his joy with his sleeping son, he discovered that he was stiff. He had quietly frozen to death during the night, unnoticed by the father. The father had protected him from the very activity that would have kept him warm and alive.
Everyone needs a turn at the oars.
Sometimes the problem is in our own hearts. We look at our place in the church and despair. We see song leaders and preachers with a prominent place on stage. We see elders and deacons with official titles. Is there a spot for anyone else to make a difference? The answer is yes! Every oar is vital. These character studies convince us that even if we can’t be Peter or Paul, the alternative is not to sit in a pew, mouth a few songs, drop in a few dollars, and be content until Judgment Day. There is an enormous amount of work to be done, and each and every Christian is placed in the kingdom for a reason. Every Christian has a role to play.
Paul compares the church to a human body:
Even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ… God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. If they were all one member, where would the body be? But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or against the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary… Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it” (1 Corinthians 12:12-27).
If you are in the body, you are vital to it, whether as an ear or even a foot. Every part, no matter how humble it seems, has a part to contribute to the glory of the body of Christ (see also Matt. 25:14-30, 2 Cor. 8:12, Rom. 12:6-8, 1 Pet. 4:10-11, Eph. 4:15-16).
Without you, the body of Christ will never become all it could be. May we all be encouraged to find ways to do more, and bring others along with us. –John Guzzetta