Friday, May 31, 2013

A Christian's Role

“The question “How can Christians be culturally relevant?” is redundant. “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” wasn’t a temporary cultural need 2,000 years ago. Only Jesus can give the world what it needs, but often to show them the Designer and Author of Life we are too busy making sure that we fit in. Mother Theresa was out of this world because she was living for the next one. Can you say that?  Is the majority of your day spent making sure that this world knows who you are or is the majority of your day spent making sure that this world knows who Christ is? The gospel makes us culturally relevant because we know the answer to the question that every culture asks. We don’t need to remodel Jesus to make the salvation He offers appealing. Serving those around us as Christ did is all the relevance we need. Be culturally relevant by living out the answer to our culture’s most acute need: the need for The Savior. Appeal to this generation by dressing down your ego. Humble yourself to serve as the King of Kings served. Serve in a loving, practical way, getting your hands dirty.”1

A topic that keeps tumbling around in my brain and popping up in conversation recently has been Service.  Everyone who truly follows Christ feels led to serve in some way.  Whether you serve in your community, your church or your home, service opportunities are always before you.  What’s interesting for me though is how we label service.  For instance, because my family attends a house church, it’s much harder to see service opportunities, at least, on the face of things.  There are no sign-up sheets asking for teachers, nursery workers, musicians, etc.  There are no special collections taken for the poor, the unemployed, the widow or the regular offering to contribute toward all the expenses associated with running a charitable organization or church building.  I’m sure many people who have tried house church eventually leave feeling like there’s nothing for them to do or nowhere to give of themselves or their money, and God has placed some kind of cause or service on their heart so they must go somewhere to fulfill that role.  The point is God has placed service on every one of his follower’s hearts, and we are commanded to fill that role.

House church eliminates titles. And coming from a traditional church background, this can actually be very hard to deal with when you don’t know any other way.  When you know your role, you know your place.  Being a helper in the nursery helps one to understand how they are helping on a weekly or monthly basis.  It helps one to compartmentalize their service.  It may sound like I’m criticizing this, but truth be told, it helps one to see exactly where God is using them and how.  And that can be encouraging and uplifting.  But house church throws everyone and everything together into one big pot, stirs it together and forces one to figure out how to live life without the differentiations and compartmentalization between religion and daily life.  It is this melding of faith and works in my daily life that I sometimes stumble over.  How am I serving God?  When am I serving God?  Am I serving God enough?  Enough for what??

As a woman in a house church (or a small group Bible study), I run the risk of thinking that the only thing I can do is prepare food, serve it and clean up afterward.  I can validate my “role” by telling myself it’s important to be hospitable and make my home clean for guests, it's important to serve the food as it’s vital to the gathering that we share in the Lord’s meal when we come together, it’s important to keep the children quiet so others can pray, sing, worship in their own way and together as a group, etc.  It's not much different than a member of a traditional church telling themselves it's important to be involved in the music ministry so others can worship, in the children's ministry so the little ones can learn about God, in the mission board meetings so we can help spread the Word.  We tell these sorts of things to ourselves all the time; this can result in self-satisfaction in our own serving or we can feel like our service amounts to nothing and we must do more.  But no matter which side of the issue you fall on, it's vitally important to be listening to what God is telling us. 






One of the greatest acts of service I experienced was after the birth of my last baby.  One of my church family members, Vickie, came over every week to hold and rock the baby (as well as do laundry) so I could get a much-needed break from my high needs baby and get some things done.  Bless her heart that she chose to get her hands dirty and come give me some personal help!  I seriously don’t know what my mental state would be right now if she hadn’t come to the rescue.  True Christian ministry always consists of personal, relational, sometimes-dirty service.  I would go so far as to argue: if it’s not personal and relational, it’s not ministry.  Jesus’ ministry was always personal, and it was always relational.  Ministry is intimate, and I’m realizing the less comfortable I am with intimacy*, the less I’m able to be used by God.

* Intimacy  in·ti·ma·cy    [in-tuh-muh-see]  

  1. the state of being intimate.  
  2. a close, familiar, and usually affectionate or loving personal relationship with another person or group.
  3. a close association with or detailed knowledge or deep understanding of a place, subject, period of history, etc.: an intimacy with Japan.
  4. an act or expression serving as a token of familiarity, affection, or the like: to allow the intimacy of using first names.
  5. an amorously familiar act; liberty.
As the years go by, I am slowly realizing my service to God is a daily “getting-my-hands-dirty”, “loving-people-through-their-mess” while “accepting-help-with-my-own-dirt” kinda thing.  One doesn’t need a title to be serving God, and if you’re searching for a specific role to fill, it’s probably right in front of you existing in that woman you met at church last week or that neighbor you bumped into yesterday.  Even closer to home, it exists in your family.  Do they recognize your service to God in your love for them?  Showing God’s love, mercy and grace to your own spouse and children is a full-time ministry in and of itself.  Do NOT trivialize that!  God wants to use where we are whether that’s traditional church, house church or you don’t go to church.  He will take every opportunity we’re willing to give Him and bend it to His purpose.

Kajiji Girls is its own ministry, make no mistake about it.  We mirror the early church far more than most churches do these days, because it’s the daily living with each other and the loving each other that is representative of the early church.  Our acts of service to each other blesses us all enormously, but most importantly, it points the world to God and His amazing love for us and through us.  Every act of service you perform for another follower of Christ, for one who needs Christ, for the one you’re married to and for the one(s) you mother ministers not only to them but to yourself and mainly to God.

When you’re worried that you don’t have an official title, remember you are a royal priesthood (I Pet. 2:9).   Or if you’re looking for a role to sign up for, remember you are to carry one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2). Or you're worried you're not out there fulfilling the Great Commission, remember your home is your mission field and your love for those around you is the greatest testimony to offer the world (John 13:35).  Just look at those around you right now.  Look at the people you walk by every day or the sisters-in-Christ you fellowship with every week.  Look...truly the needs present in those people and see if you can meet them somehow.  

That is ministry, dear one.  

That is your role.

1. From an article contained in the latest Medi-share newsletter, In the World, Not of It by Hannah Foti, Marketing Coordinator

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