Communion of the Saints

Some congregations are very large, consisting of hundreds of people, several office bearers, and many small children milling around. Other congregations are quite small. Maybe they’re without a pastor of their own, only a few office bearers, and only a few young ones who usually have the attention of every member of the congregation. But wherever you are, and whatever the size of the church is, in the true church of God, there will certainly be one thing. Communion of the saints.

“Q. 55. What do you understand by “the communion of saints”? A. First, that all and every one who believes, being members of Christ, are, in common, partakers of Him and all of His riches and gifts; ”secondly, that every one must know it to be his duty, readily and cheerfully to employ his gifts, for the advantage and salvation of other members.”  (Heidelberg Catechism, Lords Day 21)

Tomorrow, Lord willing, we will all be experiencing communion of the saints within our congregation.  We will experience this with the old, with the young, with the members we don’t know well, and even with the members that we “don’t get along with.”

The communion of the saints is a beautiful, sweet gift from God that is not ours to receive or reject, but rather a gift to treasure and to flourish in! We are to enjoy it every Sunday, and to use this precious gift to glorify God. It is our duty to partake of Christ and His gifts, and readily and cheerfully to employ our own gifts! Not so that we may have a relaxing and self-fulfilling Sabbath, but for the advantage and salvation of other members.

“Behold, how good and pleasant it is for Brothers to dwell together in unity!” (Psalm 133: 1)

Despite the beauty of this union, some members struggle to see themselves as an important member to the congregation. Some members see the truth pouring into others, but they don’t feel fed themselves. Some members are too busy inspecting the actions of other members, they’re not contributing their own duties and gifts. However, despite our human downfalls, this communion of the saints is still there! As we just read in Heidelberg Catechism, “everyone who believes, being members of Christ, partake of Him and all His riches and gifts.”

Everyone! This is extremely different than,“everyone who feels it,” or “everyone who realizes it,” or “everyone who wants it.”

“That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us…” (John 17:21)

But we still ask, what about the differences? What about the sins that we see in ourselves and others? Differences provide the opportunity for good, profitable discussions. Differences provide a chance to teach, and differences sometimes lead to beneficial changes. Sin will always be present, and we have a Lord who forgives our sins.

Take your opportunity this Sunday to partake and cheerfully employ your gifts. In this way we will be able to taste and understand the communion of the saints.

The communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.”

Averly Kikkert

Living to Glorify God

It is so easy to forget why God put us on this earth sometimes. Why, God? we ask. Some days I even find myself thinking I have the right purpose—serving others. I love to help others and often use it to justify that of course I’m being godly in what I’m doing. But a lot of times that service ends up being my god, and instead of aiming to glorify God in that service, I am doing it for lots of other reasons. Then I sing a Psalter number or read a Psalm and am once again struck how very wrong I am. We are reminded by so many of the Psalms that our sole purpose is to praise our Father and give Him all honor and glory. Below is a poem I put together, weaving lines of many Psalter numbers throughout—God gave us these songs so we can remember our calling!

Why am I here, on this earth?

Why did my mother give me birth?

Each day will I give thanks to Thee

And all Thy praise proclaim!

 

What is my purpose in this life?

What can I do amidst the strife?

Sing a new song to Jehovah

For the wonders He hath wrought!

 

But I am tired, weak, and weary—

How can I be anything but teary?

Sons of men, awake to praise

God the Lord who reigns above!

 

This life is hard and full of woes—

I have trouble just fighting my foes.

We on Thy lovingkindness dwell,

The wonders of Thy grace!

 

How can I, a poor and little child—

Speak to the Creator of the wild?

Say ye to God, How terrible

In all thy works art Thou!

 

But all I can do is so small

Compared to the God who made us all.

All glory, might, and honor

Ascribe to God on high!

 

_________________________________

 

Blest be the Lord, our fathers’ God,

Eternal King of kings,

Who only is omnipotent,

Performing wondrous things!

Blest be His great and glorious Name

For evermore, Amen,

And let His glory fill the earth

From shore to shore. Amen.

 

Psalter numbers in the order they appear in poem: 399:1, 261:1, 295:4, 134:1, 173:2, 183:4, 196

Grace Medema

The Continuity of Christian Service

I wonder sometimes if Jesus ever told His disciples, “You’ve served me for a long time. You’re going through a lot of intense service right now. Your reputations and your physical health, and maybe even your mental well-being, are beginning to wear. You’ve given so much in the service of me and my Father, and people are also taking a lot from you. Why don’t you take a break from it all for a few days?”

But when I wonder these things, I need to talk about them, because my thought process is usually so wrapped up in the question that I’m incapable of meditating on an answer on my own. I thank God that I have both lovely roommates and philosophically intriguing friends who are there to listen, ask questions, and point me in directions I’d not yet considered. Their doing so is, in many ways, a service to me.

But is a Christian ever justified in taking a break from service? In pausing the activity of serving others, because that Christian has reached a point where too much is being asked of them with little to no reward, and perhaps even no recognition?

I suppose it depends on the attitude towards the service. If that break is a form of escapism, or pulling away from all of one’s problems for a brief breather before being unceremoniously shoved back under the burden of service to flail in frustration and desperation, then that break is unhealthy, for two reasons.

First, the effect of our service is dependent on the purpose of the service. Like the twelve disciples on the road to Capernaum, we often serve in order that we may be great (“the greatest”), that we may be rewarded with fame, fortune, and favor. But Jesus rebukes their disputing and attempting to one-up each other when he says, “If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all” (Mark 9:35). If we serve in order that we may be personally fulfilled, we aim to move an ocean from one place to another with a tablespoon. After all, no amount of good works will earn salvation or personal satisfaction, unless those works are done with the heart of a true servant, humbled to service for the sake of obedience and delighting in that service for the love of the Master. As the Apostle Paul and “Timothy our brother” wrote to the church at Corinth, “For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Corinthians 4:5). That is, not for their own sake or satisfaction, but for a greater and more inspired purpose.

Second, it is unhealthy because of the negative understanding of “service.” Living in the spirit of faithful service to a fair and gracious Master is not easy work. It is tough, on the mind and the body. In addition, we are not all given the same capacity for service in the same areas (1 Peter 4:10). Sometimes, in serving, we are breaking new ground with what we do; other times, our work is continuous, often repetitive. Still, even repetitive service should not become a burden to us, but should be a joy, a delight. As G.K. Chesterton once said:

“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them.”

And God knows our work is not easy. This is why He has given us a day of rest. God Himself rested on the seventh day. On the Sabbath, we don’t rest from Christian responsibility. We rest from the physical and mental labor of the week that we generally perform for the sake of worldly survival, for money and our “daily bread.” But on the Sabbath, we rest in Him on a day gifted to us by him. We find our rest in Him, in the quiet moments – though they be few and far between. As you prepare for worship this Sabbath day, may you be reminded that this is a day of rest, a gift of God to His faithful servants. And in rising on the following Monday, may you find the phrase, “Do it again,” running through your mind with the quiet contentment of finding satisfaction in Him.

Ashley Huizinga