Diakonia is the principle by which our Lord describes His entire ministry, and of the life and ministry of His followers. George Stob states in Deacons and Evangelism, “Everything that was done by the Son of Man who came, Jesus Christ, including humiliation, self-emptying, cross and death is summarized in eight letters: d i a k o n i a. The same single word also indicates the pattern of life for all who followed Jesus. Diakonia: they go into service . . . . They are other-directed . . . . They find themselves among those in need; it has become their natural milieu . . . . They discover that they are being drawn into Jesus' diaconate and start participating in it. Diakonia is essential for the life and well-being of the Church. “ James Barnett says his book The Diaconate, “The Diaconate is about what the church is or should be.” Again, it is not something optional, or peripheral or auxiliary to the main thrust of the church's ministry, but stands at the heart of the Gospel and its mission to the world. It is a reasoned concern for the well-being of another. Diakonia is active compassion through service.
Those concerned with benevolence are not merely concerned that no one is without food, but encouraging members to full joy in the Spirit. They should be concerned that each member of the church has a place, feels cared for, and can function according to the responsibilities each has been given. The ministering service of love not only includes taking care of the financially poor, but also sees to the relieving of other forms of oppression and affliction so that these “needy” can function in the covenant community. We must show ourselves to be a holy people who by our car
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Dr. David S. Apple is the Director of Mercy Ministries at Tenth Presbyterian Church, in Phila., Pa. He received his B.A. from Calvin College, M.A.T.S. from Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and D. Min. from Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He directs ACTS (Active...