Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Example for community ministry

Probably one of the most exciting days in March for me was the day I got to go to Grace College with Todd and Tara, to do some community ministry training. We got to speak to a small group of students who are in school, training to serve the Lord in missions, and it was exciting to hear from them and share with them what God's been doing in our lives over the past year. We talked mostly about community, since that is something we've been learning a lot and growing in this year. It's a fine balance between hiding within rich Christ-centered fellowship and being light and salt in a dark and bland world. What is the biblical basis for the kind of community that we long for and work for?

We agreed that Philippians 2 was a good place to start:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
 Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
 rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
 And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death
        even death on a cross!

I am so thankful that Jesus set an example for us to follow. He helps us to understand what it looks like to shed selfish ambition and clothe ourselves in humility. I love reading the book of Mark to see Jesus' example of community ministry in action. So many times the stories show him walking and looking, finding people and inviting them to follow him and join him in what he was doing. He touched and looked at and ate with individuals, and spoke in the context of their culture and their lifestyle. He was one of them, and at the same time he was definitely distinct from them all - and it was attractive. He laid down his glory for the sake of calling us to something deeper and greater than we could ever reach on our own. And what was the point of all of it?
 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

The glory of God. That was the point of everything Jesus did. And through his example, it should be the point of our lives too. We talk with strangers in the neighborhood, we invite people into our homes, we teach and serve and give and listen and pray and love because Jesus freed us to do it and called us to do it. And our lives are for the glory of the Father.

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