Ministry of Presence

Many Christians I talk to worry about their faith. The primary worry they express is feeling ill-equipped to minister to others. They are firm in their faith but worried somehow the Holy Spirit has neglected to give them what they need to minister to others. They oftentimes discount or ignore or are unaware of the giftings in them that seem obvious to me and those around them. We tend to idolize the gift of evangelism above any other, and this contributes to and fosters a lot of worry and a sinful diminishing of the other gifts of the Spirit, just as the Corinthians diminished the gifts of the Spirit in favor of the gift of speaking in tongues.

So whether you feel gifted with the ability to articulate the Gospel or the doctrines of our faith, the Holy Spirit has gifted you in some way or ways to minister to others. You have something to contribute to the Body of Christ, and your contribution is both needed and of value, even if you doubt it or others don’t appreciate it.

One of the ways we can love one another as Christians is simply to be with one another. To spend time together not only in times of joy and celebration but also during times of loss, crisis, or difficulty. Words may or may not be necessary. But just the act of being together is strengthening in many ways.

This isn’t to confuse the Gospel with how we act. St. Francis of Assisi’s oft referenced statement of Share the Gospel always and sometimes use words is sometimes used as a justification of confusing the Gospel with how we act. We have to lovingly resist this confusion. After all, just being present, just being nice, is something anyone can do – Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, or atheist. Our behavior is not the same as the eternal Word of God. But how we are as followers of Christ can be a way of sharing the love of Christ and loving our neighbor.

So it was we were blessed to minister as a family last week. I was able to work with my wife and kids to spend time with another family, reassuring them they aren’t alone and that not just the intangible presence of Christ but the instantiated Body of Christ is real and present to and for them. This involved not just bringing them the Word of God during worship, and bringing them the Body and Blood of Christ in Holy Communion. It also included laughing with them, talking with them, listening to them, allowing them to show us the city they live in and some of the places they love. We are created for relationship, and it was a blessing to bring relationship to this family. It was a blessing to do so with my family, to strengthen and extend those relationships as well.

Our God is good, who gifts us with himself in relationship from our creation to eternity. He gifts us with family and friends and the Body of Christ, his own Church. And He blesses us through that Body with partners who can enable relationship, support, and strengthening from the other side of the world! Thank you for making it possible for us to minister to this family, as well as for me to bring teaching and encouragement to those working for the Church in Sri Lanka.

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