The question was asked if doing acts off service or mercy is necessary in the church.  Is preaching not enough and the Sacraments not enough?  This is a statement by Janis Vanags of Latvia thatI found stunning.The departure point for thoughts – surprisingly  – could be a word from Acts 9,5: “And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.” Saul persecutes the church, but Jesus says – you persecute me. Paul experiances how Jesus identifies himself with his church and subsequenly teaches about the church as the body of Christ. If we take it seriously – and Paul seems to mean it – it brings us to far reaching consequences.

According to St.Paul, Christ did not abandon the world without His body after ascension.  Latvian theologian and martyr Edgars Rumba wrote about the church as the continuation of Christ’s incarnation. Christ left his church on the earth  as his body to carry on his work. The ministry of Jesus Christ could be systematized into three main areas – Martyria, Leitourgia and Diakonia. (Witness, Mercy, Life Together)

This helps to understand what diakonia is. Christ is the true deacon and his work is propagated by the Church. As the whole of his ministry may be described as diakonia, so the whole life of his Church is to be diakonia. If a church is not diaconical, it fails to propagate Christ’s ministry. It is not just lacking of some philanthropic activity. It fails to act as the body of Christ. The Christos diakonos corresponds to the ekklesia diakonos. Thus, diakonia is not a philanthropic activity but a essential characteristic and a dimension of the whole church. Diakonia is an expression what the Church is.