Yesterday I preached at my home church on the theme of “Serving our communities”. We are going through a series on the values of our church community. Service is a value of our church.
When thinking about this I wanted to go back to ask a seemingly silly question: why do we serve? It seems a stupid question. It’s obvious, everybody knows we should serve one another. The question as to why led me into some interesting thoughts and some wonderful early Trinitarian theology.
The first point I wanted to make was that we serve because we are made in the image of a serving God. Now this is not the idea that most people have of God. Most of us are more likely to think of God as an old man sitting on throne with lightening and storms going on around him. I know Psalm 104 says that but God’s true nature is of love and service. Read the rest of the Psalm and see how God services his creation.
In most of the creation stories of the nations around Israel, the gods created humans in order for the humans to feed the gods. Whereas in Genesis 1:29-30, God creates the first humans and provides food for them! This reiterates what most of the Psalm says.
The most important point is actually to be found in God’s own nature. God is a community of love and service. The Christian doctrine of the Trinity shows the persons of the Trinity in harmony. They indwell one another. Theologians call this “perichoresis”. This word is made up of the words for “around” and “making room for”, “move forward” or even “contain”. This makes it sound almost like a dance. This is the harmony and love of the triune God for each member of the Trinity.
We were made in the image of that God. We were destined to share that life but sin has marred us and the whole of creation. Sin has made us less than human, making us turn in on ourselves instead of out to others. Selfishness marks humanity.
In Christ we are drawn into this “perichoretic” relationship, invited to take part in the very life of the triune God. We do this through faith in Christ and in service to Him, which is worked out in service to one another. We can only truly find our identity in relationship with God and with his people. This is the mission of the church, to be that image of Trinitarian love in the world, serving one another and all those in need.
So this is why the church should be a community of service and love. The mission of the church truly is to be what the church should be!