For the past year, my ministry has boiled down to being the guy who said yes. I’ve ended up volunteering, working on projects, and serving on committees because I was asked, or because no one else was available to do something that needed to be done so I stepped up.
For Lent, I decided I needed to spend time in prayer and contemplation to try to figure out where my personal ministry was going. I’ve been happy with what I’ve been doing, but it’s been scattershot, like throwing mud at the wall to see what stuck. It was service, but I was restless and I didn’t feel that I was moving in the direction I was being called. Of course, I also wasn’t sure what direction I was being called, which is why I was saying yes and throwing mud at the wall to begin with, to see if one of those paths led me somewhere that felt right.
During that period of Lent some things did happen, and I had some epiphanies and some really strong signs that I won’t share here because they’re either very personal or just plain boring (mostly the latter). My key revelation, though, was that my ministry doesn’t lie in ministry at all.
Yes, I’m going to keep on being a lay speaker during worship services and yes, I’m going to keep volunteering and advocating for the homeless, but the void that I’ve been feeling is the call to witness. Doing that within the walls of the church, well, the phrase preaching to the choir comes to mind. I really don’t witness to the homeless (except at Community of Hope, or when someone comes to me with a prayer request) because it’s just not right to make someone feel that the cost of a sack lunch or a pair of socks is getting preached at, and it’s not the point of serving those people.
Where I’ve found the opportunity to witness has been in my “normal” life. By having a weekly post on this blog about ministry, rather than placing it on a separate blog, people are aware of my faith and what I do in the name of that faith, and they’re free to read it or ignore it. By posting things on social media, people see what I’m doing. I try not to push my religious views onto other people, but I don’t hide them, either, and make myself available for questions. That has led to more conversations, and more opportunities to witness, than I’ve had within the walls of church.
We live in a time where religion in general and Christianity in particular are not viewed favorably by non-believers. The loudest voices with the best media coverage and the most extreme views seem to get the spotlight, and they give the perception that they’re the majority, or the norm. Even if they are, they’re not the only voice, the only views, the only theology. I am not anti-gay, anti-women, anti-science, anti-education, or anti-anything. I don’t take the Bible as inerrant and absolutely literal, and understand that it was written by men (albeit inspired men) and that many parts have a specific historical and/or cultural context that may or may not apply today. God gave us intelligence and common sense for a reason.
My job as a Christian isn’t to judge other people, to tell them to shape up or go to hell, or to guide them toward a Heavenly reward. My job as a disciple of Christ is to live as Christ lived, helping the poor, feeding the hungry, and bringing aid and comfort to the sick. My job is to show people the unconditional love of Jesus Christ, and to do that by living the most Christlike life that I can. It’s impossible to love people unconditionally while screaming that God hates them.
I have been blessed with the opportunity to talk to atheist friends, lapsed Christian friends, people of other faiths, and show them that not all Christians are like those harsh-speaking, judgmental people on the news. I am not only a disciple of Christ, I must be an advocate for Christ. Those people from that church picketing that funeral? They do not speak for me, and they do not speak for Christ, either. Those politicians who said those rude things? They do not speak for me, and they do not speak for Christ, either. That guy that has that show and wrote all those books, who did that vile thing and cried alot? Does not speak for me, does not speak for Christ. I can safely make a blanket statement that anyone using pull quotes from the Bible to try to justify their personal, social, or political agenda probably does not speak for me, and probably doesn’t speak for Christ, either.
So this is my ministry: just living my life, as a writer, a publisher, a blogger, a gamer, a friend, trying to do what Christ would do, with as much love as a mortal human being with normal problems and frailties can muster.