Working in the church is a tough subject for most Christians. I put myself at the top of the list of those that need to be more involved. Many times, we get categorized as a Christian that attends worship/bible class, or a Christian that attends as well as does other works. Do we really understand what it means to be workers in the church? The Bible explains how we all have an important role as members and puts a dividing line for those that do versus those that do not work, and emphasizes that we will be held accountable for what we do and do not do.
Works can be a wide variety of tasks in the church. They could be as simple as picking up a member for worship, or maybe teaching a bible class. We also have many needs from working with our youth to men participating in our worship. Doing good can be a wide range of things. They are not just limited to things within the walls of the building.
In Romans 12: 5-8 Paul writes “So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.” Paul explains how (although we are different members) we all make up the one body (the church). We all have our purpose as well. Not all members will have the same talents; however, it is written for us to use these talents for God’s glory. Absent from scripture is the idea that some members have no talents and should just sit idle. The God who created us all gave us all talents we must use for His glory. Paul also writes to the church at Corinth in 1 Corinthians 12: 20-22 “But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of you; nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary.” Here the emphasis is on us all being one body (the church), but we are all different parts. Each of these parts has a use and is needed. Just like a body, there are no useless members that cannot nor should not contribute. In verse 22 Paul writes how those members which seem weaker are necessary. I know I feel I am not worthy or should not be doing certain things. However, this emphasizes how there is a use and a need for us all regardless of our background or even our recent struggles.
When Paul writes to the church at Thessalonica he warns against being idle and the importance of the church working. 2 Thessalonians 3:7-9 reads “For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you; nor did we eat anyone’s bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us.” Paul emphasized how they worked and earned money outside of preaching so that the church would not be burdened in paying them. Paul thus left them an example of how they should work. This is not only limited to certain members. Reading further in verses 10-11 Paul writes “For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies.” Here he is drawing a line between those that do and those that do not work. Further, a “busybody,”(according to the definition in the Cambridge Dictionary) is “A person who is interested in things that do not involve him or her, especially other people’s private matters.” This really gets to the heart of the matter for some of us today. Paul is referencing members of the body that not only do not work but concern themselves with the affairs of others. This is an easy and dangerous trap by which Satan entraps some. I tell my boys all the time to do your job and stop worrying about what others think, and don’t making excuses. When these opportunities to work arise we should act without even being asked. Saying “no one ever asked me” or “that is not my job” is nothing more than an excuse.(and we all know that excuses will not cut it on judgment day – Ecclesiastes 5:6; Luke 14:18).
This is how Christians should approach work in the church. We do not excuse ourselves, but we do what we can when we can with a joyful heart and a good spirit. If we spend our time doing the right thing and working, we will not have time to be a busybody. If, however, we do not work then it is easy to sit back and criticize or gossip about how others are doing it wrong.
If there is any place in the Bible that gets right to the point concerning works, it is James 2:14-14. In this passage James writes how we will be held accountable. “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, Depart in peace, be warmed and filled, but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” This passage certainly puts fear into me. I have to ask myself, “Am I doing enough?” James also goes on to write in verse 20 “But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?” Further, in verse 26, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” Again, James emphasizes the importance of works and how we will be held accountable. We all know we cannot pick and choose which parts of the Bible to obey. Why would we not focus on working within the church?
One struggle I have always faced in church is feeling like an outsider looking in. I feel that I am not worthy or not “good” enough to serve in the church or do some work. However, this is just another excuse. The truth is, brethren, we all are an important and useful part of the body. Paul pointed this out in Romans 12 and Corinthians 12. Paul and James additionally warn of us of being idle and God holding us accountable. Therefore, having an excuse for not working only hurts our own salvation. We hold ourselves accountable with our jobs and other worldly things. We wake up early in the morning for work even on days we are sick. Understandably we do this out of fear; i.e. fear of losing our job or maybe not getting paid. But do we have the same accountability for God or fear of God? We should not look at working as a burden or simply a job. Doing good works can be a way to give back to others in need. In Luke 6:38 Jesus stated, “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” Therefore, what we put into our efforts will all be given back to us. Finally, we have an opportunity to influence those younger Christians around us. Those who are babes in Christ will look to us as examples. The influence could be positive or negative. It is up to all of us within the body to set this example to allow the more immature members to grow.
Finally, when we get involved we are being like Jesus – who got involved with us in this world. He left us the perfect example (1 Peter 2:21). Will we follow in his steps?