“But as for you, continue in what you have learned
and have become convinced of,
because you know those from whom you learned it,
and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures,
which are able to make you wise for salvation
through faith in Christ Jesus.”
[2 Timothy 3:14-15]
Greetings in the name of Christ,
As I am writing this, I can only reflect on the past two weeks, when I had the opportunity to attend the Oklahoma Conference Local Pastor Licensing School. It was a time of ups and downs, turns and twists, joys and concerns, but it was also a time filled with the spirit of the Lord, a time of meeting new friends, of sharing Jesus’s love for all of us, and a of fellowship. It was an experience that I will not soon forget, if ever. I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to attend this schooling.
As I was preparing to write this article, I was conflicted on what to write. I first thought I would write on the experiences I had at school. The sermon I presented was on “God’s Grace Through Faith” from Genesis 22:1-14, when God tested Abraham, asking him to sacrifice his only son Isaac.
After redoing the sermon several times, I realized that this scripture was speaking to me and that tests can be valuable. I learned that God tests us, not for God’s benefit, he already knows our hearts, but for our benefit. God wants us to know how mature our faith really is. In the First Epistle of Peter, Chapter 1 verse 7, Simon Peter tells us that God will work with us, encourage us, and, yes, sometimes allow us to be tried and tested, “that your faith … may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”
The scripture showed me that, by God’s grace received through faith, God does provide. We only need accept that and believe it, to trust and obey.
Since I also provided this sermon on Sunday June 29th, I decided I would not rehash this. Instead, I looked for something else for this article. As I was trying to get through the mess on my desk at the church office, I came across a paper that I thought I would write on instead. I have no idea where it came from, but it was beside my computer, and I thought was very practical and timely.
We Are All Called to Minister
Though our gifts vary widely, we are called to and engaged in the one ministry of Jesus Christ. Some aspects of our ministry are easy and come naturally. Some are difficult, involving long hours, tough work, perhaps with conflict, perhaps with disappointing results. What drives us? What keeps us going?
The memory of Jesus’ life of service to others, which inspires us to follow him in ministry; the assurance of God’s gracious love for us, which empowers us to love others; and the promise of God’s coming reign on earth, which draws us into action directed toward this vision.
Where does ministry happen?
It happens in our daily activity. For those who are alert to the needs of others, each day abounds with opportunities to serve. We minister with our families as we inquire about one another’s lives, as we listen and respond with care, as we touch, smile, and offer a kind word, and as we decide questions and reconcile conflicts. We take time to listen to a friend in need and we respond; this is often the greatest gift we can offer. We minister at work, to both co-workers and those we serve. We minister in the neighborhood or the shops as we go about the day’s work.
It happens through new initiatives. We also go out of our way to minister. We hear of a need, read of a crisis, or see an opportunity to share God’s love. It may be with someone across town, of another racial or economic group, a person with a disability, or a person of another nation or culture. We take time to call, to visit, to write, and to ask how we can help. We also take time to respond.
It happens through groups and institutions. Many needs are best met by joining forces with others. We take part in community groups that are serving human needs or changing social forces that cause suffering. We give our time, our energy, and our money. Though others in these organizations may not think of it this way, for us it’s Christ’s ministry.
It happens in the church. Through our support and our contributions, we participate in the far-flung ministries of The United Methodist Church – in our district and annual conference, across the nation, and around the world. Here in our congregation we take part in service groups, we sign up for special action projects, we visit, telephone, lead, and teach. And we minister face-to-face in all kinds of ways, both when we gather and in our informal contacts.
Inspired by the example of Jesus and empowered by God’s love for us, we all carry out our ministry, both individually and together with others.
We are about following Jesus!
In faithful service,