Years ago, I heard something rather strange. I was told that the Christian Church does not exist for itself as much as does is for others. It took me a while to get my head around this. The more I thought about it though, the more it made sense.
While worship, study, and fellowship are vital for Christians, the chief mission of the church is “the Great Commission” – to baptize and make believers. It is an invitation made by sharing the story of Jesus Christ through our own stories.
This outward-focused component is vital for what it means to be church. That said, it is also a difficult thing to do. So, how do we go about this, especially if we feel that we may be lacking in the gifts required?
Thankfully, in attempting to address this concern, some help is provided by re-reading Jesus’ inaugural address. It outlines part of the emphasis of his ministry. We refer to these words of Jesus as the Beatitudes.
Between Matthews and Luke’s versions, the exact wording and location of delivery differ. However, the overall message remains the same.
It could be argued that each petition addresses a perceived vulnerability, liability, or weakness (poor in spirit, meek, persecuted, etcetera). In other words, something is lacking.
So, what is the point?
As strange as this may seem, to be found lacking in this manner may be of great value.
In this realization we may oddly be blessed; we have the opportunity to become more trusting of God’s abilities in the midst of the struggle.
This would not happen if we were entirely self-reliant, had supreme confidence in ourselves, had no doubts, no questions, and dismissed outright the idea of receiving help, no matter what the source.
Yes, I do believe that the church should not exist for itself as much as it should for others. So, unselfishly go and minister, care and tell the story. As you do, know that it is actually a gift to feel that you are somehow lacking.
When this occurs, relax, see this as a blessed opportunity, and earnestly ask God to fill in the gaps.
Walter is pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church and has served as parish pastor for more than 25 years.