Ministry That Matters

29 10 2013

I recently realized that none of Jesus’ disciples were “saved” when He called them to follow Him. Not one of them was a “Christian” – a believer.

This thought returns often as I ponder the significance of this truth.

Somehow, many have the idea that “ministry” in the church (i.e. to teach, preach, lead worship, or usher, etc.) is the “do-all” “end-all” of our existence. I’m having to re-think this belief. Corporate gatherings are for the purpose of worshiping our Lord and equipping the body.

Equipped for what? By today’s standards, the purpose would seem to be so we could have a happier week between services.

However, Jesus said,

“Love one another

as I loved you.”

(John 13:34)

The word have makes me ask, “when”? Is He referring to these men at the end of their lives, when they finally “arrived” at spiritual maturity?

Or does He mean in the same way as He loved them…when they were first invited to join Him? You know, when they were a bunch of fishermen, a tax collector, a thief, etc.

Further, Scripture tells us that not many wise, not many mighty, and not many noble are called. Instead, He calls the foolish, the weak, and the base (insignificant) 1 Corinthians 1:26,27.

Why then, I have to ask, do I devote my time and attention to those who are wise, mighty, and noble in their own eyes – and not to the weak, broken, cast off, and dismissed as worthless by society?

My preference is the company of people who are “cleaned up,” and would rather “preach to the choir” than get my hands dirty with the “scum of the earth.”

In this, I have never been less Christ-like.

This confession grieves me.

When I meet a person who’s “train wreck” of a life seems hopeless, I am often quick to dismiss them as useless. Mentally, I’ve run through what it would take to wade into their mess and make a disciple of them. It would require prayer, time, courage, and perseverance. This will take more effort than it’s worth, I think, and move on to those with a “tidier” life…usually this means other Christians.

When faced with people who were blind, though, Jesus asked, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” (Matthew 9:28)

I believe this is His question to us today.

Do we believe that He is able to:

heal the brokenhearted

preach deliverance to the captives

give sight to the blind, and

set at liberty those who are oppressed?

(Luke 4:18-19)

Or has His ministry been reduced to making His body of believers more comfortable by improving their lifestyles?

How we spend our days reveals what we truly believe concerning this matter.

Jesus’ call is to go make disciples. This means that they aren’t disciples yet! 

…and are probably not sitting in the pew next to us.

We will have to go to them. They will be found in the highways and the hedges (Luke 14:23).

This sounds like the hitchhikers and homeless to me.

They may be a mess.

So were we.

This may take courage, time, and perseverance.

I’m glad Jesus stuck it out with me!

They might seem hopeless.

Nothing is impossible with God.

When we reach out to those who believe themselves to be healthy, we are brushed off as having useless information. Why do they need God? Life is good.

However, Jesus said to the “healthy” religious Pharisees,

“Those who are whole have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.

“But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’

For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

(Matthew 9:12-13)

As His body, let us

Go therefore and do likewise!

(Luke 10:37)

This is a tall order…our Great Commission, given to us by the Lord. Tomorrow we’ll discuss how we can be equipped to fulfill this call.