Wednesday, June 24, 2009


I have a lot on my mind and weighing on my heart this week in regards to doing ministry. I'm not talking about the kind of ministry that comes with an official title or position. Or that comes through being married to someone who has the title. I'm talking about plain ol' church ministry that we're all called to be a part of. Discipleship. The building up of other Christians. The whole thing of being the Body of Christ. It's a wonderful, beautiful thing, and I love that we each get a part to play and have all been specially gifted for edifying each other and helping each other towards growth. What a special thing. I happen to love it. But I must say, there are times it gets really hard. It's a hard role to play in people's lives. You are putting yourself out there to be an example, and that requires a whole lot - constant confession and repentance when sin comes up in your life, a teachable attitude yourself, accountability, a true spirit of authenticity, and a servant's heart that puts you in a place of seeking how to help others in the first place. That doesn't come easily and naturally; we have to let Jesus give us that kind of heart. It certainly isn't what mine is like on its own. But another part of discipleship that is challenging is the willingness you have to have to speak truth in all situations. To share God's words on a situation. To proclaim His way as better than our own. Which isn't too terribly difficult for some of us....until it is resisted. When people don't want to change and really don't want their thinking challenged, it gets incredibly hard to be obedient in sharing truth. The apostle Paul's words to the Galatians (in Gal. 4:16) resonate with me just a little right now, "Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth?"

It's so sad to see it happen. To see people get uncomfortable with the truth and decide to move on from it, slipping further away instead of climbing closer to where God wants us. Anyone who's ever been involved in ministry to people within the church knows that lukewarmness is a big deal. At least in our part of the world. In my experience, it's the biggest obstacle to overcome in ministering to people. To be used to help move people out of that and into real passion and love for God is quite a task. Honestly, lots of people are just wanting to stay right where they are. They want to get involved enough at church that they have good Christian friends, but that's really all they need church involvement for. It's a social organization, nothing more. They really want to be with people who think just like them so that they are never challenged to think differently. Or to live differently.My heart is breaking a little over this right now.

Now, I'm well-acquainted with lukewarmness myself. I've spent many more years in lukewarmness than I have in passion. And even now...almost eight years after I made a new choice to live more passionately for Jesus...I see that He's already made me different than I was, but I still struggle so much. I lack so much enthusiasm, passion, and obsession for Him. I need to grow in this. But I want to grow in this too. It's why I have people in my life to push me towards this kind of growth. It's why my deep friendships are with passionate people. People who challenge me. People who disagree with me and aren't afraid to tell me why but always do so with biblical support. It's why I am in community with other believers, on several different levels. It's why I love the church I'm a member of - that I can find people like that if I want to be around them. I'm just really sad this week that there are so many people avoiding those very relationships because they truly want to stay where they are. There are some who, instead of fleeing temptation as fast as they can, ask for clarification of the "lines" between godly and worldly living only so they can get as close to it as possible and not feel guilt or possibly not to have anyone confront them. Besides all the ways this way of thinking is detrimental to that person's spiritual growth, it also affects others, can infest a group and help others get "stuck" as well, and misrepresents Jesus to those who don't know Him.

So the issue becomes how to minister to these people. Jesus hates lukewarmness, but He loves people. I want to extend mercy, as I know very well I've been given it, and I want to love them so well that they stay within reach and are still in a place to have their hearts penetrated by truth. But what happens so often is that truth divides people. Truth offends. And we can't be afraid to share it when the Holy Spirit asks us to. The tricky part (if I had to do it on my own) would be to balance that mercy-filled patience for people with the call to encourage others' growth which sometimes requires more direct words or teaching. Thank God I don't have to figure that all out on my own! I need Him to just do that through me. And I need not be so surprised when the truth does offend. It's pretty much what the gospel is.

I needed to process this and redirect my mind towards truth, but I'll blog again soon - with more thoughts on recipe and meal ideas for company. Thanks for your responses on that! I'd love to get more recipes!!


Dalene said...

I hate to be Senorita Calvinism, but the point here is that God calls, not us. The Holy Spirit is there to do the hard work of changing hearts; it's just our jobs to speak the truth in love. It takes a long time to get used to the idea that truth is a is painful. So you'll offend people sometimes. Finding common ground and loving others, however, is the anesthetic for that pain. I always struggle because while I think I may be speaking truth (take this comment, for instance), I might not always be correct. You're heart is tender, you're seeking the Lord, and he will use you, in spite of yourself and in spite of the reception you may be getting. Some of the most important people in my life will never know how they've impacted me, because they were just seed planters, plant waterers (is that a word?), or light-shiners (is that a word?). There is only one harvester. Take heart my sweet lady--you're doing kingdom work. Sounds like you're doing amazingly well. Keep lovin'.

Hannah E. said...

I agree, Dalene! I always seem to need reminders about God being the one in charge of change, so thanks for sharing.

Dalene said...


I will live in eternal shame, humbled by my weakness.