A Prayer for an Addiction

They didn’t apply for a role. They weren’t ordained for a task. No title. No job description. No standing, really. And yet, Paul says, “be subject to such as these.”

Now I urge you, brothers — you know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints — be subject to such as these, and to every fellow worker and laborer.

(1Corinthians 16:15-16 ESV)

Devoted themselves to the service of the saints. That’s what I’m chewing on this morning.

Not asked. Not recruited. No arm twisting, no pressure. They devoted themselves. Literally, they ordered themselves. They appointed themselves. They assigned their own responsibility and authority. As fellow recipients of grace, as the firstfruits of Achaia, they saw an opportunity among the body of believers, and they serviced them. They ministered to them. Though they held no office in the church, had no formal standing in the church, received no remuneration from the church, yet they served the church.

And Paul says, “Be subject to such as these” and to all who are like them.

Submit to those with no rank, arrange yourself under those of no position. Do so simply because they serve the saints.

Support them. Encourage them. Assist them, as you’re able. Not because of their title, but because of their task. They are but your “run-of-the-mill” people of God who are ministering to God’s people. Put yourself under their leadership.

Reminded this morning that the church wasn’t designed to be an “institution” but was wired to function as a family. Not to model itself after a business but to reflect the realities of a body. Its structure less determined by organization charts and more reflective of a fluid dynamic of each one arranging themselves under other ones for the good of everyone. Not just a place to attend, but a living, supernatural community to engage with and invest in.

Though it had a different connotation back in the 1600’s I’m sure, I am intrigued by the old King James translation of the original word used to describe Stephanas & Co.’s dedication to serving the saints.

. . . they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints . . .

In an age where we’re more likely to try figure out how we can fit the church into our busy calendars and fulfill our sense of obligation to it, how refreshing is the idea that some — not just the some who are paid — might be addicted to attending to the needs of others. Sinners saved by grace, so moved by grace that they devote themselves to gracing others for God’s glory.

Idealistic? Perhaps. Unrealistic? Don’t think so. I see it happening. Oh, that it would happen more.

That God would work a revival among the saints such that, as but simple saints with no particular standing among the saints, serving the saints might become an addiction valued and honored by all the saints.

That God’s people would be blessed. And that God’s grace would abound. So that God’s glory would be known.

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