BCC Staff Note: You’re reading Part Three in a multi-part series by the BCC’s Grace & Truth bloggers on Biblical Counseling in the Local Church. In addition to today’s post by Kevin Carson, you can read Part One by Pastor Steve Viars: Biblical Counseling and Community Outreach, and Part Two by Keri Seavey: Keeping Equipping Simple in the Local Church. You will also read future posts by Pastor Andrew Rogers, Pastor Jonathan Holmes, Eliza Jane Huie, and Pastor Deepak Reju.
Where Do You Turn for Help?
Please, help me finish this story.
Recently in a high school baseball accident, a player broke a couple of facial bones in fielding a throw from home to catch a fast runner stealing third. The player was immediately taken for help to the _____.
Choose your answer. The local Wal-Mart? The cosmetologist? The bank? The lawyer? The church? The mechanic? Or, the hospital?
For the sake of this young child, I hope you chose the hospital. Why? Because although you can get help in any number of these other places, when you break your face, you need to see a medical doctor.
Different scenario. When, as a person-in-Christ, you find yourself in a pressured life circumstance, where do you go to get help?
The Bible’s answer: the church.
Peter makes this strikingly clear in 1 Peter 4:7-11. The local church is the place where a body of believers motivated by the return of Christ lovingly provides help and hope in the midst of life’s difficulties.
The Church Is the Place for Those Who Suffer and Sin
This portion of 1 Peter relates to every member in the body of Christ. If you are presently suffering, this is for you. If you currently are not, it is for you as well. As Peter discusses ministry to each other in the body of Christ, he identifies four key components of providing help:
1) Praying for each other,
2) Loving one another fervently,
3) Showing hospitality to one another, and
4) Serving each other with your spiritual gifts.
Praying for Each Other
Each one of us is to live life prepared mentally to pray for each other. Through the power of the Spirit as we grow in the Word of God, we learn to control our thoughts. We think like God wants us to think and view life as God views it.
As we do, we are prepared to appropriately and effectively pray with a suffering person. Our prayer recognizes the reality of the situation, submits to God’s plan and timing, and celebrates the power of the Gospel and ministry of Christ.
Love One Another Fervently
We exert the maximum effort to demonstrate selfless love toward others. We are creative, enthusiastic, and determined. Sometimes the suffering is the result of sin. Even then, our love enables us to recognize the sin for what it is and move toward the other believer seeking to help restore and mend with the hope of an even stronger relationship in the future.
This love promotes unity and encourages. This love focuses on giving, not on the other person and his or her response. It is patient.
Show Hospitality to One Another
Peter essentially challenges every person in the local church to demonstrate a kindness toward others. The heart attitude of hospitality is to value God and kindness more than our own possessions.
As we see those in the church who have various struggles, we strive to demonstrate kindness while maintaining an open-heartedness toward our efforts. We are to share without complaining.
Serve Each Other with Your Spiritual Gifts
God gifts every believer at salvation. Peter’s challenge is to minister to each other as a good steward of what God has given by grace. God uniquely grants every member of the body of Christ gifts that fit the individual person, as well as that one’s local church and greater life context.
So, Peter challenges us at two levels. First, when we speak to each other, we are to speak as if we speak for God. When we serve in other ways, we serve with the energy God provides. In our efforts at ministering the grace of God to others either through speaking or other acts of loving service, we do those as careful stewards of God’s grace to us.
Why Respond This Way to Suffering in the Body of Christ?
We are careful to serve each other faithfully as part of our local church because Christ makes it possible! As those who are in Christ, everything in our lives has changed. What a privilege as part of our union with Christ that we can serve others in the body of Christ. Furthermore, we do so for the glory of God.
Implications for Daily Living
Life in the church is not neat; life is messy. The Bible gets that; in fact, God planned for it. The ministry that is to take place between believers in the body of Christ flows out of a cultivated lifestyle. This model of ministry is not reinvented every time there is suffering. Instead, it is lived out consistently in the ups and downs, the ebbs and flows, and the ins and outs of daily life. Life in the body is shared and modeled with each other in both the good times as well as the harder times.
People hurt. Pain is real. You know that. Clearly the stakes are too high to minimize ministry in and through the body – which includes ministry by you and to you. Individually, God provides you the gifts and power to enable you to serve others. Corporately, God provides the local church to offer the help and hope people need.
The world does not need another answer; the church is the answer. God expected the church to serve the members of the body and the world with excellence and graciously provided everything necessary for us to accomplish his desires.
Join the Conversation
How does the body of Christ reflect your personal efforts to love and serve by the power of Christ for the glory of God?