The Officer’s Service & Attitude
Today is a happy celebration, a glorious one for the church in which it ordains and installs elders and deacons who will serve God and this congregation. It is my sincere hope we will be blessed by the grace of the Lord.
Although we have elected these individuals, God had already elected them to be ordained and installed today.
The PCUSA has three ordered ministries: Minister of the Word and Sacrament, ruling elder, and deacon. Granted, the Korean Church also recognizes the roles of the kwonsa and honorary, non-ordained deacon, but these are absent from the PCUSA.
However it may be, the church’s officers are established to serve God – the vertical relationship – and to serve other people, our neighbors and society – the horizontal relationship. Therefore the church officer is a servant.
In addition, while the work of the church officers is primarily service, we must remember that service itself is not the ultimate end, but strive to serve in a way that is pleasing and acceptable to God.
Today we would do well to examine the service and attitude of those whom this congregation will ordain and install to serve God and God’s people. So I will share some ways in which these servant leaders can work faithfully for God.
1. Offer a Living Sacrifice (v.1)
Verse 1 states: Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.
While there are many things that will glorify God here on earth, the most important thing is worship. We can serve, we can do mission, we can love, we can rescue, we can train, but more important than all these is the life of worshipping God.
No matter how many things someone might do well, without worship, that individual is neither a church officer nor a servant. A student may skip many classes and still study well, but she cannot be considered a faithful student. All of God’s people must offer worship that is pleasing to God. Yet among them, the church officer has the responsibility of being an example.
Church, the act of worshiping God is the most fundamental aspect of our faith. Thus, all Christians should do their best to worship. Moreover, worship is not to be offered in a mediocre or haphazard way. Therefore, it is not “just worship” but rather, “a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.”
What the congregation and its members need to do today is to restore worship. It is to be restored to that act of living sacrifice with which God is pleased. If we do not worship properly, we cannot expect anything. Such worship is akin to empty actions and a wasting of time that amount to nothing.
The officers who will be installed today along with the rest of the congregation would do well to remember Hebrews 10:25 which exhorts us to: not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching. It is our hope that our congregation’s officers will be ones who do their best in their life of worship.
2. Test and Approve God’s Will Daily (v.2)
Because the human mind is composed of three aspects: intellect, emotion, and will, the renewing of these aspects will change our mind.
First, we must renew our intellect, our thoughts. When a person comes to faith, his or her heart does not immediately become like that of an angel. While the individual’s soul is saved, sins forgiven, justified before God, and eternal life gained in an instant, that individual’s mind must be gradually renewed by the Holy Spirit. Those who are reborn must have their mind and thoughts renewed.
While the people of this world live for the desires of their flesh, lust, or pride of life, those who believe in Jesus must live with a different outlook on life. Our fundamental view of life is not to seek high position or honor in this world, or to gain power or pleasure, but rather to love God and neighbor in our earthly life.
Also, our view of the afterlife should be different. Rather than just assuming this world is all there is, we have, and live in the hope and joy of heaven. We must renew our intellect in this way.
Second, we must renew our feelings. Humans are creatures of emotion. Even if humans claim they live by reason, they nonetheless have emotions, and because they do, emotion dominates reason.
As we know, when an individual is upset, he will become ruled by his emotions. It is frightening to think that most destruction stems from human emotions of hate, anxiety, fear, and frustration. Alas, people are easily frustrated and disappointed.
There is a saying among physicians, “No matter how good the medicine is, a patient who falls into despair cannot be saved.” On the other hand, it is said, “even if the illness cannot be cured, a patient who battles with courage and hope from faith can be saved.” Therefore I need to renew my feelings.
Third, we must renew our will. When we renew our will, we will surrender our stubbornness and ego to God. Why did Adam fall? He fell because he misused the free will bestowed unto him by God. For this reason, fallen humanity lost its ability to use free will rightly. That is why our will is renewed when we obey and surrender to God.
To summarize this far, the church officers should not imitate this worldly generation but rather, renew their intellect, feeling, and will in order to serve God. It is my hope that we will be born-again, and renewed so that we can discern the will of God and please the Lord.
3. Think Wisely According to the Measure of Faith (v.3)
Every individual has talent and ability. It is difficult to go beyond the limit of one’s talents and abilities. Matthew 25 tells a parable of the talents where before traveling to another country, a master calls his servants and gives them money according to their abilities. Likewise, we also have our talents and abilities.
Church, not just anyone can become a ruling elder. Also, not just anyone can become a deacon. This is done according to each individual’s measure of faith. They are called not to think more highly of themselves than they ought. They are called to think with sober judgement.
The Bible lists many gifts. But we can see that all of these gifts are meant to serve others. The list includes: prophecy, service, teaching, encouraging, contributing, leadership, and compassion. However, church officers should do the work of encouraging others.
Christians do not live for themselves but exist to live for God and for the sake of others. In particular, in order to achieve a sense of community in our congregation, it is necessary to forgo oneself and exercise the gift of honoring others.
Most people need praise, encouragement, and comfort. The church sometimes plays a prophetic role in society, but the role of binding up the hurt, comforting them, and encouraging them is the mission of these important officers.
Mark Twain once said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.” There is also a saying, “A word at the right time can cause miracles.” An encouraging laugh or word at the right time can be a source of great joy for someone else.
Our congregation is blessed to have members who provide comfort and encouragement to one another. Encourage others with kind words, comfort them by phone, send your regards in a letter, visit the sick, pat a back of one who needs encouragement, lend an ear, share what you have, and in doing these things we practice the gift of encouragement to those in need.
May all of us receive this gift and bless others with hope and courage.
4. Be Zealous and Serve the Lord (vv.10-13)
We are exhorted to 1) be devoted to one another in brotherly love, 2) be joyful in hope and patient in affliction. 3) be faithful in prayer, and 4) share with God’s people who are in need.
Members of the early church did not think of themselves as their own but a part of a community thusly deeply connected. Today’s believers should help one another and share with one another in community as they did in the early church.
5) Practice hospitality. Cornelius gave generously to those in need and God considered it a memorial offering, and Abraham in his hospitality unknowingly entertained angels.
May the officers who are being installed today and all of the members of this congregation faithfully serve the Lord and receive God’s blessings.