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Re-imagining Ministry


Re-imagining Ministry.  Kilndown and Goudhurst, 23 June 2013

1 Peter 2: 4-12

Most of us here are believers in Jesus.  We believe he’s made us spiritually alive.  But what makes the church come alive?

Today’s passage points the way.

Verse 4: "As you come to him”.  The first thing is for us to come to Jesus.  We pray, we come into his presence, we approach him.  Doing that, day by day, is the key.  The hardest thing, but the vital thing.

What happens when we come to him?  Verse 4 again: we discover he is the living Stone.  Not the most well-known metaphor for Jesus, but here it is in the Bible.  He is living, which itself is astonishing given that he came to earth 2000 years ago.  And he is the living Stone, solid, dependable, real, the Stone, the one that really matters.  In verse 6 we see he’s the cornerstone, the foundation of the whole family of God.  Utterly dependable so that "the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”  If we want a shame-free life, trust in Jesus and that is what you will be given.

So we meet the living Stone, and then what?  We become living stones as well.  It’s catching.  We become alive, when we were dead in our selfishness and rejection of God, and we become something he can build with, solid and useful.

Then he takes us one by one and builds us together into a spiritual house.  What’s a spiritual house?  A Holy Spirit-filled house.  One that is alive with the presence of God.  He fits us together to become a Holy Spirit-filled home that he lives in, that is set apart for him – that’s what holy priesthood means – and that is a bridge between God and the world, between heaven and earth.  Jesus is the cornerstone – the foundation – and the capstone, verse 7, who holds the whole building together.  But we are the stones who make up the rest of the building.  Without each of us there wouldn’t be a building.  He needs us, he uses us, he fits us together into a living house that pleases him.

As he builds us into this Holy Spirit house, what will we do?  Offer spiritual sacrifices to God (verse 5).  We serve him, we use our gifts for him.

What are our gifts?  A huge variety.  Everyone here this morning has different gifts.  A good guide to what our gifts are, is what we enjoy doing.  If we enjoy doing something it’s probably because we’re good at it.

Take a moment to list what your gifts are, or what you enjoy doing…

So let’s: 

  • Pray about what our gifts are
  • Think about what they are – or what gifts we’d like to ask for.  (God tells us elsewhere in the Bible "earnestly desire the greater gifts”, and "you do not have because you do not ask”.  He loves to give us gifts, not for selfish reasons but to use for his glory.)
  • Trust Jesus, and step out in faith.  Offer our gifts, put them to his use.  Have a word with Hugh, or just start using them.

Some questions to finish on:

  • What if I think I’m unworthy?  We’re all unworthy.  That’s the point.  In the psalms it tells us that the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise (Psalm 51).  And this passage (verse 5) tells us that our sacrifices are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ – it’s Jesus who makes them acceptable.  So, come as you are.
  • Can we really be built into a Holy Spirit house which pleases God, and which represents him in a way that glorifies him?  Yes.  Amazing though it seems, verse 9 "we are a chosen people, a royal priesthood” because Jesus is the cornerstone and the capstone.  He is the one who makes the whole thing live… "that we may declare the praises of him who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light”.  The point of all this is to bring praise to him.  This is what glorifies him.  Us.  Coming to him.  And being built together, as we serve him by loving him and loving our neighbour, putting every gift we have to his service.
  • Why can’t I serve on my own?  I don’t know, but he says he wants us to serve together, with one stone supporting another, as a team.  I suppose it’s because one gift complements another – and because loving one another is what he wants, and we don’t do that by staying on our own.
  • How can we be sure he’ll use us?  Because he has promised to, in this passage in front of us.  As we come to him, the living Stone, we also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house, serving him and each other here in Kilndown and Goudhurst.

So let’s thank him, and let him.

Posted: 30/06/2013 at 07:01
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