April 6

One of the things about the gospel story is that Jesus is willing to accept anyone who is willing to put their faith and trust in Him. You see this from the very beginning of Scripture. Just read through the book of Genesis. You’ll look at guys like Noah, Jacob, Judah, and so many others, and think, “Is this the best you could find, Lord?” (Insert your own Russell Crowe comparison here…)

When you turn to the NT, and the gospel of Luke, once again, right off the bat (yes baseball season is here!), right from the tip (okay, so March Madness is still going on), you see the same thing. Unexpectedly, God uses people and places that seem so out of place when you’re talking about fulfilling-God’s-eternal-plan kind of stuff. Jesus’ parents, His birth, His first worshipers, the ones who first announce Him at the temple—if we were writing this story, we would not choose any of these characters or circumstances.

But that’s just the way God is. He doesn’t do things the way we would do them. Because the way we would do them, we would pick the honorable, famous, “worthy” people to be involved, and the best and most desirable places in which they would occur. Not God. He has much more interest in getting His message across. That message is not, “only the best need apply.” Rather the message is, “there’s a place for anybody and everybody.”

But it’s more than just acceptance. It’s more than just a place to fit in. It’s a place to serve. As the NT continues on, we see the exact same message in the life of the church. Service in the body of Christ is for anybody and everybody.

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.  For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.  Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.  And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.  If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?  But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.  If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body…Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. (1 Cor. 12:12-20, 27)

This is the same message the apostle Peter gives, telling each of us to serve wholeheartedly in Christ’s church, using whatever gifts we have in ministry to others and to the praise of our Lord.

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:8-11)

Bill Allen

Dr. Bill Allen preached at South Fork from 2005 to 2015. He received a Bachelors degree in Bible from Oklahoma Christian in 1978, a Masters in Bible from Abilene Christian (ACU) in 1988, and a Doctor of Ministry from ACU in 1992. He now preaches at the West Erwin Church of Christ in Tyler, Texas.

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