Wednesday, December 05, 2007
The Life Altering Story
Some of these Christmas posts will be about practical things...honoring God with our finances on His birthday, gift-giving, etc. However, the story of Christmas, every year has done something astounding in our every day lives as a couple. Every year, we walk away from Christmas changed...challenged...convicted...the story of Jesus coming to our world is so powerful.
A few years ago, one of the questions Aaron and I asked ourselves while thinking through the Christmas story was...
How does God do ministry?
Before I go any further, here's a confession...
The way that Aaron and I are tempted to do ministry is by treating ministry as an event.
We are tempted to think that ministry only happens at church on the weekends as we serve and love the body of Christ.
We are tempted to feel like, we've checked ministry off our Christian list if we show up to a block party and eat hot dogs with people on the wrong side of town.
We are tempted to believe that God's call to minister to the orphans is satisfied when we put money in an envelope and send it to a needy child.
Surely we've done enough ministry since we buy shoes for kids who don't have any, and gave a back pack to a child who needs one.
The problem Aaron and I ran into, was we liked our ministry to be something we signed up for, showed up for, fulfilled our "duty" and then ran back home to real life. When we saw a problem, our first response was..."What is our church going to do about this?"
As a couple we never asked God if we should be doing something more...something less easy...something less scheduled, planned and organized.
What about living out Jesus' heart on a personal level?
When Aaron and I had to stop, look at Jesus' life...and ask ourselves some hard questions...like how are WE personally being imitators of Christ's way of loving others...the answers were depressing.
Looking at the Christmas story, we found that our way of loving and serving people, isn't really the way that Jesus loved and served people. That bothered us!
Thankfully, when He saw our needy, pathetic condition He did not put money in an envelope and mail it to earth.
I'm so glad that when He saw how hopeless our lives were He did not put together a PROGRAM to meet our needs.
I'm so grateful that when he saw how depressing our lives were He did not show up for an afternoon and then retire back to his comfy home in heaven. Well, He eventually went home to heaven, but that was after He gave up His life and comfrot to serve us.
He came here.
God WITH us.
Slap-dab in the middle of us.
There was no place He could hide.
His disciples were with Him all the time...except when He went off to PRAY.
There was NO separation between life and full-time ministry for Jesus.
God saw our need and inserted HIMSELF in our sad situation.
HIMSELF! His hands, His heart, His feet, His love, His rebuke, His availability.
He came here and lived among our issues, sat with us, talked to us, hung out with us. If I'm honest, I would prefer to do ministry, then come home and leave that ministry on the other side of town. But, that's not how Jesus did it. He put skin on and moved to town...the wrong side of town. He didn't swoop in from His high and mighty social position, stand back and smile at us. He made Himself look like us...wore our skin...became one of us...and loved us. He moved right into our neighborhood.
I love that He didn't show up on a Saturday, serve us, then hop back in the car and head home...returning to His real life. From what I read, loving others was His life.
We are called to imitate Christ.
We are called to be doers of the Word.
Sure, that means obeying the Bible...but we are reminded at Christmas that Jesus IS the Word...the one who took on flesh...and lived among us.
Which means, we have been challenged to be doing the same things we see Jesus doing in scripture.
After looking into this, we found that ministry to Jesus, was not something He did because the church calendar told Him to do it. Ministry to Jesus was life consuming. He did not merely "work us in." Jesus' ministry to us brought Him to earth...and then to the cross.
When I look at the people God used in the Christmas story, I'm blown away by their obedience and willingness to serve.
Pregnancy was not just something Mary could do on Sundays.
She agreed to long-term service to God by raising His son. Motherhood is a 24/7 job.
Joseph adopted. If you have read this blog at all, you know how terrifying that can be when God initially calls you to it.
He revealed Himself to wealthy wise men and to poor, dirty, social outcasts.
Immanuel...God WITH us...ALL of us.
Aaron and I have to constantly ask ourselves...
Does our life look like Christmas?
Are we loving others the way Jesus modeled for us through the Christmas story?
Are we showing God's love to all people, not just the people who look and act like us?
When we see needs, how do we respond? Are we too quick to pull out our checkbook, to try and solve problems with a system, with a plan...do we even consider that God may want to actually use us...us...our lives...our every day lives to intervene in hard, sad situations?
Do we still have hiding places, away from people?
Do we see problems and run, instead of interject?
Are we willing to get involved, even when a problem can't be fixed in an afternoon? Are we okay with real commitment, with being in it for the long haul?