Ministry: A place where the biblical visions and human needs encounter.
Let us start with basic human needs. We humans generally have these needs:
1. Physical needs.
We need to eat, sleep, and make love. We want to be healthy and alive. Survival is the basic need.
2. The need for purpose and meaning.
However, we are more than animals. People with enough resources commit suicide. People sacrifice their status and sometimes life for certain purpose and meaning. Mere survival is not good enough for us to sustain our lives.
3. The need for self-identity.
We want to have our own unique identities. We have common elements as humans but we also want to have our unique aspects, which make us who we are. I want my color, my shape, and my size.
4. A sense of belonging.
However, we do not want to be alone. We want to belong to something, someone, or some group and to make positive contribution to them. When we feel that we are useless to others, we lost our desire to continue to live.
5. The need for safety.
We want to protect our body, mind, and soul. We want to keep our culture, race, and community. We want to maintain our good reputation, status, and image. We do not want to be destroyed and forgotten.
6. The need for creativity.
However, we do not want to stay boring. We want to take risks to find out what is out there. We are willing to go beyond our comfort zone to see something new, something mysterious, and something dangerous. We want to make new things, new relationships, and new world.
7. The need to control.
As long as it is my decision everything is acceptable. I can give up my life, my status, my resources, my relationship, and my control. However, when it is forced, imposed, uncontrollable, we do not like it. We can give up our basic physical needs to search for meaning in life. We can lose our self-identity to be a part of a group voluntarily. We even leave our safety zone to walk on the road never traveled.
Here faith starts with this first step: Give up your own control voluntarily and trust God.
When we give up our own control over our lives, God will provide our basic foods, shelter, and safety. Expand the Kingdom of God is the meaning and purpose of our lives. We have this identity as children of God. We belong to God’s family. When we take risks to do God’s will, God will protect us and guide us. God is the foundation of our works and standard of our lives.
So, there we have biblical visions for our ministry:
- 1. God is in control. We need to trust God’s good will, God’s timing, and God’s love.
We proclaim that God is the King. In ancient times, it was enough for us to say that because people knew what a king was and what a king did. The Bible also uses the image of the King of kings for our God. Also, God as our Father was working in a patriarchal society. Now, many of our children do not have fathers around. Some say that God is the boss. It works for a hierarchical community. So, we can use many names to mean the same thing: God is in control. God created the whole universe. God created even the sun, moon, and stars that people sometimes worship as gods. God created everything in the universe and set reliable principles and standard in it. That is why we do not have to worry about natural disasters. Even when we do not understand all the rationale behind the disasters we know they are necessary in God’s created world for the whole.
When we preach, teach the Bible, and guide people spiritually, this is the basic principle. Trust God and accept what is given. Learn how to make peace with what we have and with whom we are. We are precious as we are. We are given enough for our daily life.
As soon as people try to control their own lives and others, they lose control. None of us are powerful enough to keep our control over our lives. We have limits and weaknesses. We do not know what is going on in the world and even in our own minds. We cannot count all the variables and figure out all the possible ways. We mess up things and relationships. We find ourselves in traps. We do not know how to get out of them. We use many means to give us fake sense of control but realize that we are addicted to them and enslaved by them.
- 2. Live and love for the Other (God and our neighbors through whom God reveals).
The basic principle is just the starting point. If we are satisfied with the knowledge that God is in control, we do not do anything further. We stop there and we act like Taoists, Buddhists, or Atheists. Taoists say “Do nothing artificially.” Buddhists say “Know that nothing is real and you are also nothing.” Atheists say that nature is all we have and there is no God. They all argue that we should do nothing to change ourselves or the world. They all teach that that is the way to keep the peace of mind.
They all sound similar to our basic principle: Give in your control. However, they all do not know the Other person to whom we are accountable. They do not know this personal God. So they all stop there, human limitedness. They are good at accepting our human condition but they are not willing to accept God’s unlimited power and love.
However, we Christians do accept this personal God to whom we owe our lives. We accept that God has unlimited power and unconditional love for us, God’s own creation. So, from that belief, all the answers to our human needs come.
As long as we are not greedy, we should have no problem in maintaining our daily bread, clothes, shelters, and health. When we become sick God will cure us. When we make mistakes or commit sins, God will forgive us. When we are lonely, God will be there for us. God is our companion and God is our shepherd. When we need something, we pray.
We belong to this wonderful community called church. We are a member of God’s family. We do have mission to do as a member of Christ Body. So, we nurture each other by words and actions.
Our purpose in our lives is to praise God who call us from the darkness into the light. Our goal in our lives is to spread this Good News and to make disciples of Jesus to transform the world into the Kingdom of God, where God’s love and holiness prevail. So, we worship God and serve the world. We share what we have. When we finish our course on earth, we reach to the end line to receive the eternal life.
Now we know why we live and how to live. Now when things are not going well we know what to do and how to do. Now we know what the problem is and what the solutions are. As long as we trust God and follow God’s voice, all our human needs will be met.
- 3. Confirm and reaffirm these basic teachings.
Ministry is our efforts to confirm and reaffirm these basic teachings through personal counseling, visitation, Bible studies, and preaching. I say time and again in hospitals and at home, in sanctuaries and at meetings, that God is in control. I preach and teach that God will provide and we will share.
I say to the dying that we are forgiven and given a new eternal life. I proclaim to the living that we are accepted and given a new opportunity to serve and to share. I challenge the greedy that violence does not lead to accumulation. I encourage the conflicted that peace is the way. I pray for the captives and I plant a seed of emancipation for them. I know that God will have harvest for God’s Kingdom. It would be not my success and not my ministry. I am in God’s hand and I am happy. I have seen human miseries and sufferings but I am still joyful because I know that everybody is given the opportunity for forgiveness and love.
So, I invite you to be a part of this journey. Come and plant seeds with me!
Your life will be abundant and rich. You will say at the end of the day, “My life has been wonderful because I have done all the things that I suppose to do here on earth. I am glad that I have met Jesus and served him in ministry.”