Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Muddy Shoes

Life and ministry is messy; there is just no way around this fact and yet still have an impact on people.

What would it look like if Jesus' ministry was nice and "clean"? Couldn't Jesus do ministry and not hang out with the "messy" people? Sure; He is God and He could have done it any way that He wanted. But since Jesus is our Supreme Example and He showed us the most effective ministry is when we hang with the people, even the ones who are not really "worth" hanging with, then maybe we should get accustomed to hanging that way.

This doesn't make our ministry easier, knowing this is the way Jesus set it up, but it freeing to know that His way is the best, and only way, and He is the One who provides the increase.

So what will ministry done Jesus' way look like? He said He came not to the healthy but to the sick, so we should be thinking about being around people who are sick. Does this mean hospitals? Maybe. But He was talking about spiritually sick, more than physically. What does a spiritually sick person look like? Look in the mirror when you know you are spiritually sick and you will have the answer.

David was spiritually sick when he cried out to God that his bones were wasting away. Have you ever been in that spot? What kind of "medicine" did you need? Often it is a swift kick in the pants, but there are times it is a tender listening ear and a lighter kick in the pants. This goes back to knowing our sheep. Not everyone needs the same kind of "encouragement", but we all, at times, need some sort of encouragement to renew a steadfast spirit within us and restore the joy of our salvation.

I think most of the time the answer is time. We are trying to get all these things done and maybe even trying to effect too many people and we don't have time to really hone in on the ones that God is putting into our lives. Potentially all the things we are doing are good, but that doesn't mean that we are personally to do them all. Even Jesus had only 12 men that He really focused on, and then He focused even more acutely on 3-4.

I think most of us can do a better job of ministering to more people on a quick and surface level by quoting more Scripture to each other and being ready to have a defense of our faith and an encouraging word about what the Lord is doing in our lives. I have found recently this seems to be good for the up-building of others. But then it gets tricky. From there who are we to really focus on? Jesus is not physically here to point out whom we should be pouring into, so how do we know? Look for people who keep coming into your life. Maybe these are not even the ones you are thinking about. Pray that God would make it clear to you who is to encourage/admonish you and whom you are to encourage. He can make it so clear that you may have to stand back and laugh when He is through.

Pray for opportunities to share and then courage to share when the opportunities are there. Pray that today you would be able to impact the Kingdom by getting your shoes dirty and being part of someone's life that needs help. Pray that we would be humble in our approach and that we would be teachable ourselves.

Life is short, like a vapor, and we may not get to impact the Kingdom tomorrow in the life of the one standing in front of us today; messy or not.

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