Sunday, January 17, 2010

Guide To Starting Your Ministry

This is a continuation of my personal commentary on the book of Matthew as a result of my ponderings.  I'd like to point out here that I am indeed enjoying this exercise.  It is exciting to see how certain verses which I already have read before are now showing me something new.  The problem is writing my thoughts in English.  I seem to think in Ilocano (my native dialect) and yet, having been detached from that culture for twenty years, I can't speak straight Ilocano anymore.  I'm linguistically messed up. :) That should explain a lot of things, ha! 

John's ministry was in full swing.  People were confessing their sins and repenting.  He was preparing the way for the coming Messiah.  Jesus on the other hand was already at the right age to begin in ministry.  He has publicly shown His obedience by submitting Himself in baptism and survived Satan's temptation without blemish.  Jesus was preaching here and there but John was still the superstar.

Reading verses 12-17 we can trace the model that Jesus adopted in launching His ministry.  The model may be old but it is applicable and worth considering in this day and age.

Step 1.  Put yourself under an authority
Remember that John the Baptist was the pioneer evangelist.  He was the first one telling people to repent and announcing coming of the Great One in this story.  When his ministry was fruitful, Jesus did not try to take the leadership role by competing with him; he stayed behind John but not idly.  He supported John and he got busy preparing Himself for the right time.  He worked on His personal "spiritual infrastructure".  

It is often difficult to put ourselves behind someone who is less than us.  Our tendency is to fight our way into that role by competition or indifference.  Jesus' example speaks humility.  In humility we shrink ourselves so that life might be more beautiful - a Helenist definition.

Step 2.  Step in when the need arises.
Verse 12 indicates the event that prompted Jesus to step in.  John has been imprisoned and his ministry is now jeopardized.  He moved from Nazareth to where John was preaching in greater Galilee.  He was prepared and ready.  Notice that he continued from where John left off.  He preached the same message, "Repent..."  Sometimes in our desire to make a mark, we change things for our personal promotion.  May it be that we will always remember the reason that we've been called, regardless of the magnitude of the responsibility that we have.

Step 3.  Organize your team
After Jesus positioned Himself for the ministry, the next thing He did was to organize His team.  He called those whose hearts were already prepared.  It would be hard to ask anybody to do something that they themselves are not convinced of.  Since we can't all be ministry leaders, most of us would play the team players.  To the team players, here's what to consider:
  • The call requires commitment (v. 19)
  • Your commitment is a sign of your obedience (v.20)
  • In obedience adjustment in your priorities is necessary (v.22)

Step 4.  Do the work the right way
Jesus preached in the synagogues, the traditional place of teaching.   He not only taught the people in order to heal them spiritually with his messages but he also healed them physically from their sicknesses.  This is the way to reach those who are lost.  Spiritual transformation is foremost of our objectives, but no less is involvement in meeting their needs.  Sometimes our ministry is obstructed by our unwillingness to care and serve those who we minister to.  We act as if our job is only limited to teaching them the words of God per se, rather than a way of life. We are supposed to teach them how to put these teachings into action by the way we live.  This is called discipleship. 

Jesus Christ came in this world in human form so He could teach us how to live.  Now I encourage you to use your imagination... what did it require for Christ to become a man and live among us?  It required a lot of love and humility.  Love and humility are also required from us when doing any work for God.  This is not an easy thing to do, knowing our human tendencies, but the scripture says, " on towards the goal to win the prize for which God called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Phil 3:14).

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