Monday, June 27, 2011

Meaningful Ministry

In a class I am leading at Grace Chapel called "Faith and Vocation," I was asked to define the term "ministry." Put more simply, what is "meaningful ministry"? 

I’d like for us to think about 2Cor. 5:17-19 for a little while, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” Of course, most of us from evangelical backgrounds have used these verses narrowly to say this means that whenever we talk to people about Jesus, i.e. evangelize, then we are “doing ministry.” Yet, if we pause for a second and look at some of the salient features of these verses, we might understand that our redemption is taking place in the context of a larger hope, that of the ultimate restoration of all things.

  1. The “ministry” we have received is the message of forgiveness, that when we give our lives to Christ, we become a “new creation” in Christ.
  2. However, the larger Scriptural context here must not be lost on us.  What does it mean to become a “new creation”? It means that we share in the larger hope of the new heavens and the new earth (Isa. 65:17; 66:22, Rev. 21:1). The redemption of our souls stands in solidarity with a much larger restoration project involving all of creation (read Romans 8:19-21 closely).
  3. Finally, think further with me about Colossians 1:16-20 that makes clear in no uncertain terms that the achievement of the Cross involves the "reconciliation of all things whether things on earth or things in heaven...”  In this 2Cor. 5 passage, we must think of human beings within the larger narrative of the “world” that is being reconciled to Christ.
So the “ministry of reconciliation,” and thus meaningful ministry means participation in making things beautiful once again, whether sharing the Gospel with a friend who needs the restoring power of Jesus or whether preparing tasty barbecue with your neighbors on the 4th of July, mowing the lawn, going to work. All these activities are rightfully defined as "meaningful ministry": indeed, this is the “ministry of reconciliation” entrusted to us. 

"For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen." -Rom. 11:36

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