A Life Changing Ministry
A sad truth is that many churches, even very good Bible teaching churches, are filled with members who really don’t minister to one another. They don’t walk through those doors on Sunday morning thinking, “Who can I minister to today? Whose life can I touch with the love of Jesus?” The unfortunate outcome of this wrong mindset is that too many people walk out with the same gnawing needs as when they walked in.
You may not feel there has been anyone in your church experience who seemed to care much about you, let alone have a ministry to you, but you can single out one or two people and have a life-changing ministry to them. That is what God is calling you to do. Let’s look at some Bible commands to those who claim to know Him.
There could be no better place to begin this topic than to look at what the Bible says in John 13:34,35: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Love One Another
So you walk through those doors at five minutes to eleven and shake a few hands before you sit down in the same spot as last Sunday. You’re in church; You feel good. But isn’t there really more? Couldn’t God’s view of loving one another go a bit further? Paul gives a strong challenge in Philippians 2:3: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” These are not just idle words to fill space. In the following verses, Paul says that even our attitude toward the people around us should be an expression of the love Jesus had for us when He painfully bore our sins on that cross. From that depth of love should naturally spring from our lives action that would make our Savior proud.
Let’s go back . . ... to that step through the church doorway. You shake a hand, give a greeting, but then you spot someone and you hear God’s prompting. As you walk toward this slightly downcast individual, you reach out a hand, look into troubled eyes, and ask, “How has your brother Bill been doing? I’ve been praying for him.” The resulting conversation and the emotions shared seem to have no concern for the time or the approaching service. Your friend shows tears of gratitude and you share a hug. Then, after a few more encouraging words, you walk together into the service. The love of the Savior has just been demonstrated.
Loving one another is a command from Jesus. But beyond a command it is an avenue through which we can find the “full” life Jesus speaks of in John 10:10. With the love of our Savior in us, it is only natural to let it out.
So now it’s Wednesday night. You are in a church business meeting, and things are going differently that you had hoped. There seems to be a lack of interest in what you think. The reality of a past message comes to mind. You struggle with it a bit until you know what God would have you do. “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21)
Submit to One Another
“But what if they’re wrong, and I’m right?” you ask yourself. But the words of that verse don’t mention a right and wrong party. You are in the midst of potential worship on a Wednesday night. An emotional discussion becomes an opportunity to draw nearer to Jesus. “But they’re wrong!” you mumble on under your breath as though having an argument with God. But no words come back to you–none heard–but the words of that verse.
You would rather be some place else. Even watching TV you consider. But down in your heart you can’t let loose of those last five words: “…out of reverence for Christ.” It really isn’t about right and wrong here. It’s about Jesus. Not what you are saying or doing, but about your attitude–an attitude of superiority. Thoughts filled with “what I want” instead of what Jesus wants. You stare into the eyes of the man speaking and silently ask God to forgive your wrong thinking.
Now it’s Thursday afternoon. You have some shopping you have to get done for the weekend. You should have started this job a few hours earlier. I’ve got to stay on task, you think to yourself. Got to get home. And then it happens. The elderly woman ahead of you in the checkout line needs a different size bottle of grape juice. She’s frustrated with herself. Without even thinking you reach for the bottle and volunteer to get the right size. The verse in Galatians 5:13 doesn’t even pass through your mind. But it’s there.
Serve One Another
You smile as you return and hand the correct size bottle to the woman who smiles back in appreciation. You fumble for your credit card and can’t help but think that you know the woman from somewhere. But where? Finally, out in your car, you remember. The teller at the bank. She had mentioned that she was in the midst of moving and that it was very draining on her. You told her that you would pray for her. (You did once.) You pray right there that God would help you to have a further ministry to her. But you express thanks as well for this chance to be a servant.
You are relaxing with a book in your favorite chair. It’s a story of a family in the mid eighteen hundreds and their move out west. Tomorrow is Sunday. It’s been a great weekend. Then you are somewhat startled by the phone ringing. But by the time you reach it the party has hung up. You notice on your caller I.D. that it’s your committee partner at church. Could she be calling about our missionary project? you ponder. But why hang up? Then you call her back and discover the reason for her hanging up.
Her sobbing over the phone makes it difficult to understand her, but you discern that her mother has just been diagnosed with terminal cancer. At a pause in the crying you tell her that you will be right over. She says you don’t need to, but soon you are on your way.
Bear One Another’s Burdens
As you pull into her driveway you fight to hold back your own tears. You knock on the door without response, and then just walk in. You join your friend on the sofa and share a hug. The eyes that normally sparkle are red and wet with the day’s agonizing news. She can’t handle this on her own, you ponder as her tears wet down your favorite sweater. Unaware of the verse in Galatians 6:2, you are in the midst of fulfilling “the law of Christ.” With an hour past and then another, there are hugs of appreciation. You make the promise to be praying for her every day. Then you make a request of the composing friend. “Will you let me pick you up for church tomorrow? And sit by me?” With more hugs and an agreeing nod. “I’ll be here at 10:30. I’ll give you a call.”
You are in your normal seat at church. The people at the other end of the pew smile and you smile back. It’s been a good week. You give a little squeeze to the hand of your still grieving friend next to you. You are looking forward to another great message and some powerful hymns. God is good. The service begins with your favorite song, How Great Thou Art. Then right in the middle of “then sings my soul…” a family sits down in the row ahead of you and you recognize her. She has on her fancy brown hat and that I’m-better-than-you-are look. She knows you are behind her, but she takes no notice, just joins in in the singing. But you can’t forget what she did a few weeks ago. And you don’t want to forget it. She doesn’t deserve your forgiveness. You try to block out the thought of her. But there is something drawing your mind away from the worshipful singing. It’s the words of Jesus, “Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”
Forgive One Another
Why, why, why, goes through your mind as the next song begins without you. Then come the words almost shouting in your ears, she needs to know the love of the Savior too. At a glimpse of your friend beside you singing away, you confess, God, I’m sorry for being unforgiving toward Alice. Then after a pause, Please help me to forgive her and have the ministry to her you want me to have.
Weeks are not perfect because everything went well. What makes one good is staying close to Jesus.
These are but a few of the commands God has given His church. God doesn’t weigh His church down with rule upon rule. It’s by expressions of Christ’s love that “…everyone will know that you are my disciples…”
(More ways to show God’s love: Romans 15:7; Luke 17:3-4; Hebrews 10:24-25; James 5:16)