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Posts Tagged ‘Christian ministry’

The last few days my perspective on what constitutes genuine Christianity has been sharpened so keenly.  Just when I think I “get it” the picture then gets even more distinct and new details come into view.

As I continue to delve into the words of Jesus, and His actions as well, I earnestly seek  the Heart and Mind of God who lived as a man.  A pattern then begins to emerge so vastly different than the one which now carries His name.  How can we hear Him, then look at what we have created, and believe this is what He intended or meant?  Where can we find the similarities?  Why do I only find opposites?

I was willing to follow the radical teachings of the Hebrew Roots Movement because I believed this is what God wanted from us as His followers.  I was seeking something real and radical, not status quo and dead.  But Jesus is that radical.  He is so vastly different than the wisdom we learn in this world, which Christians seem to approve as appropriate for church and ministry as well.

In “Commercial Christianity” I discussed the money/business focus that the church finds itself serving as an institution.  Lately I am seeing another contrast even more troubling; a characteristic so intrinsic to “church” and public ministry that we have come to accept it as completely normal.  We call it Christan while in reality, it is the opposite of Jesus.

I can’t quote scripture, because it would take nearly the whole of the New Testament to show you.  The picture is everywhere in the life and words of Jesus, and those who followed Him.  How can we read it, yet miss it?  In a word: humility.

Words from a *friend of mine, writing about the woman at the well:

Scripture said that this woman was anticipating the coming of her Messiah, “I know that Messiah cometh, which is called Christ; when He is come, He will tell us all things.” John 4:25    She was waiting for her salvation from God.  When Jesus told her that He was the Messiah, she LEFT HER WATERPOT to proclaim to her people that she had met the promised Messiah.  “Come, see a man, which told me all things that I ever did; is this not this the Christ?” she said.  She was searching and He came to her and this encounter changed everything for her!

God didn’t choose to reveal Himself first to the town mayor or the head of the city council nor the high priest of the top synagogue.  God chose the scandalous woman, the talk of the town, who most likely was the black sheep of her family, the one who disappointed her parents.  But God sees and knows the hearts of all (I Samuel 16:7, in reference to David, a man after God’s own heart according to Acts 13:22).  “Jesus saith unto them, ‘Verily I say unto you (chief priests and the elders), that the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.  For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not; but the publicans and the harlots believed him.’” Matthew 21:31 & 32   “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world, to confound the things that are mighty.  And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea and the things which are not, to bring to naught things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.” I Corinthians 1:27-29

Jesus is GOD.  If anyone had the logical right to promote Himself or seek the high and lofty in human society, He did.  Instead, He sought out the outcasts that no one else would touch: lepers, prostitutes, tax collectors, demon-possessed, uneducated poor people, dead people, sick people, other ethnic groups, the evil Roman conquerors, and even a traitor.  Do you realize it takes humility to walk, talk, and minister to these people?  You have to see the value God gives them.  You have to be willing to get dirty with them and be touched by their infirmities.. just as Jesus did when he was born into this depraved human race.  He was not born with our depravity, but He was willing to be surrounded by it and take on its guilt in order to save it.

Over and over Jesus emphasized that God values sacrificial love that does not advertise its exploits for its own gain or fame.  Even if you do go out on the streets to find the lost sheep but flaunt your works before men, you are still not serving the Jesus that walked this earth.  God knows your heart.  He warned many would come to Him on the last day and say… “We did all these works in your name,” and yet He does not know them at all.  Most of these “healers and prophets” want the masses to come to them, and give generously.  They like to be on TV and they are all striving for fans and influence.

I have often heard critics of the big names in Christendom ask why the healers don’t go into the hospitals if they really have love, compassion, and the faith to heal.  But the same question could be asked of ANY gifting God has given us.  We train musicians to stand up and use their gift in the church for the weekly performance.  And yes, they may have hearts of true praise toward God, not motivated by the joy of having their gift “recognized”…  but are our hearts bleeding with the same grief, for the same people Jesus is seeking?  Or have we accepted a man’s agenda and his priorities over what Jesus said and demonstrated constituted “true religion?”  What did James say?  What is the witness of all the Apostles?

We were commanded to go OUT – not gratify, entertain, and magnify ourselves with our gifts and callings.  We make sure our buildings are pretty and comfortable so the upper middle class will feel comfortable.  We would not want to appear shabby or poor.  We seek to be known in our communities by other church leaders and civic leaders.  We have an image… a MINISTRY.  I am weary of men who are more concerned with promoting THEIR ministry with the world’s priorities, than following Lord they claim to serve.  He must increase, and we must decrease.  We can do far more good when no one knows our name.  We don’t need to brand our churches and make our own names known.  We need the humble Jesus to break our hearts and purify us for His work.

This does not begin to paint the picture I see, but I hope in some small way, someone will see in Jesus what is truly important to the heart of God.

* My friend I have quoted here is someone Jesus saved out of a lesbian lifestyle.  She now writes and ministers her testimony to God’s grace and restoration to the “outcasts”.   You can read more of what she has to share here: Sharing Light in the Midst of Darkness

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