A Community of Service
HEIDELBERG CATECHISM, LORD’S DAY 21
What do you believe concerning “the holy catholic church”?
I believe that the Son of God through his Spirit and Word, out of the entire human race, from the beginning of the world to its end, gathers, protects, and preserves for himself a community chosen for eternal life and united in true faith. And of this community I am and always will be a living member.
What do you understand by “the communion of saints”?
First, that believers one and all, as members of this community, share in Christ and in all his treasures and gifts. Second, that each member should consider it a duty to use these gifts readily and cheerfully for the service and enrichment of the other members.
What do you believe concerning “the forgiveness of sins”?
I believe that God, because of Christ’s atonement, will never hold against me any of my sins nor my sinful nature which I need to struggle against all my life. Rather, in his grace God grants me the righteousness of Christ to free me forever from judgment.
A Community of Service
Thursday, May 18: Psalm 22
Relationships require responsibility. That’s true in places of employment, in marriages, and in Churches. That’s why the Church is also known as “the communion of saints” who together “share in Christ and in all his treasures and gifts,” and that “each member should consider it a duty to use these gifts readily and cheerfully for the service and enrichment of the other members.” The Catechism’s teaching is at odds with our underlying cultural question, “What’s in it for me?” John Stott provides a healthy Biblical response to this self-serving myopia: “God’s order is that we love him first, our neighbor next and ourselves last. Sin is precisely the reversal of this order. It is to put ourselves first, our neighbor next (when it suits our convenience) and God somewhere in the distant background” (Christian Basics, 21). The Church is a community that “shares” Christ, “readily” serves, and “cheerfully” enriches others. In contrast to our culture, the Church lives as a community of service in imitation of Christ the Servant (Ephesians 5:1-2, Philippians 2:1-11). The Church is not called to “meet needs,” unless, of course, those needs are consistent with the gospel purpose of Jesus Christ. And perhaps the greatest need today is to reintroduce the Church to her responsibility to imitate the servant character of Christ. Psalm 22, “The Psalm of the Cross,” teaches this truth. It envisions a growing circle of impact because of Christ’s life, death and resurrection. Those who believe in Jesus celebrate new life with their spiritual siblings (vv.22-24), hope that “all the ends of the earth shall…turn to the Lord” (vv.25-28), and pray that Christ will be proclaimed “to a people yet unborn” (vv.29-31). The vision is breath-taking. The cultural question may be: “What’s in it for me?” The better question is: “Does my life in Jesus seek His good for a generation yet to be born?” Relationships require responsibility. Since we are privileged to have a living relationship with Jesus, let’s responsibly live to pass on the faith to an ever-increasing circle of Christian believers that extends well beyond our limited horizons. How large is your communion of saints?
Pastor Calvin Hoogendoorn