In a book on the “lost language of lament” Michael Card makes the following connection between really loving one another and lament.
“Our failure to lament also cuts us off from each other. If you and I are to know one another in a deep way, we must not only share our hurts, anger, and disappointments with each other (which we often do), we must also lament them together before the God who hears and is moved by our tears. Only then does our sharing become truly redemptive in character. The degree to which I am willing to enter into the suffering of another person reveals the level of my commitment and love for them. If I am not interested in your hurts, I am not really interested in you. Neither am I willing to suffer to know you or to be known by you. Jesus’ example makes these truths come alive in our hearts. He is the One who suffered to know us, who then suffered for us on the cross. In all this, He revealed the hesed (loving-kindness) of His Father.”
From A Sacred Sorrow, p. 29.
These past few sermons on the C/church have been extremely encouraging for me, and I hope for you as well. Perhaps most encouraging of all was the realization that our struggle is against the spiritual forces and the demonic world. Success is not necessarily measured by visible results but by conveying the wisdom of God’s plan to bring everything under the lordship of Jesus to the evil spiritual forces. How liberating is that for teachers who see little to no success in the classroom (or outside for that matter)? How freeing is that for the missionary who labors throughout the week with no apparent results?
For me, the payoff came in yesterday’s sermon. And it is something we need consistent reminders of. What is ministry? The four legs of the chair was an apt illustration because we all sit in the seat of ministry, no matter our occupation. I don’t believe too many struggle with the concept that we should watch over our own personal, spiritual condition. Thus there is the emphasis on daily devotions, Bible reading, and prayer. But I also live in a context where ministry can get restricted to my classroom or the missionary work Monday through Friday. While that is one of the legs, I cannot rest the chair on those two alone. There is also my ministry to my family and my church. Healthy service includes all four: personal, family, church, and community. And I was even thinking of the local businessman or embassy worker. Your employment is ministry! You are light in the dark community around you. You don’t have to be a pastor or missionary to do ministry. The four legs apply to you in the same way!
I found this to be very fruitful in my thinking and serving. Who is my target audience (rulers and authorities in the heavenly places)? And what is the full measure of my ministry (4 aspects: self, family, church, community).
Was there anything else that you found helpful, encouraging, or convicting? Please share it! The sermons ought not be merely a thirty-minute-a-week snack. They can be a constant meal to feed us throughout the week. The more we interact with them, the more we feast on God’s word. For me, these past few have been delicacies of fine dining. Let’s take and eat!
Tim Decker, Elder