We are not our own… 37 hours of ministry with some sleep breaks in between.
I have been doing ministry for a lot of years. Different churches, different locations, different types of work. But this week, I have witnessed something that is like nothing I have ever experienced.
This past week our little church got uncomfortable and we got tired. About 20 of us, give or take, moved approximately 500 Rowan students up and down 5 stories of elevators into their new “homes”. We handed out about 400 frisbees and magnets and letters sharing the Gospel. We talked to them, prayed for them, prayed for opportunities to share Jesus, asked them about their major, asked them about God, invited them to church.
We then went from the beautiful new building of 220 Rowan to a different scene altogether but not far away, in fact, just down the street. Kids running around in a field, older kids on bikes waiting not for a movie but for the free food that they were about to be given. Serving food donated to grateful (and some ungrateful) parents who finally get one night that they don’t need to provide entertainment or dinner for their kids. A movie played in the background while our little church kept working. Cleaning up trash, cleaning tables, unsetting what we had set up just a couple hours before. We got to hand out gospel tracts, pray for them, invite people to church, preach that God loves them out in the air and in the open.
I watched as our senior elder, John, struggled to stand on his feet at the end of the day as the labor of love for our Savior and His people weighed down on his tired feet. I cuddled my little infant baby whose schedule has been interrupted because his mommy has been busy loving on her community for the sake of her Savior. From the eldest of our church to the youngest, I witnessed something: ministry is hard. Serving Jesus and others is tiring, and frankly there are many moments where I don’t want to work anymore and I want to retreat with my little family behind the comfort of my own door.
Why then? Why wear ourselves out? Why sacrifice our comfort, our schedules, and our muscles? For what purpose?
Something that was shared this past Sunday has stuck with me these past few days.
I Corinthians 6:19-20
19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
I am not my own. I am bought with a price. That includes my comfort, my schedule, my need for control, my sweet little family. We function under this illusion that we have control over our lives, and that we deserve to get what we want. Jesus died for my freedom to love and serve Him instead of myself. His blood was shed so that I can live, but how often do we forget that. There are so many distractions in this world that can carry us away from doing what we were actually created to do, Worship God. But instead, we end up worshipping the creation rather than the creator. The blood that Jesus shed for us actually draws us TO him (Eph. 2:13).
I said earlier that in all my years of ministry I witnessed something different this week. Yes, I’ve been on mission trips that have been exhausting and tiring before. But this week? I got to see our little church actually do the hard stuff of ministry. They took off of work, they rearranged their schedules to help, they kept going when they were so done they could barely move. Ministry was LIFE this week. Serving our community was our LIVES for 3 days. We didn’t take a vacation for it, we didn’t set aside a couple hours here and there to check a box. Other things were sacrificed so that we could pour ourselves out. We got pushed a little bit more out of our comfort and towards the price and sacrifice that Jesus paid for our freedom from a sinful selfish life. My prayer this week has been that the community of Glassboro would see Jesus this week, that they would HEAR Jesus this week. I know seeds have been planted that God can use for His glory. But I also think something else has been revealed, we can do it. We can do the hard work of ministry. God can push us to the brink for His Glory to serve and love on His people. God can change the way we speak, He can give us the boldness to talk about Him, He can take our seemingly small acts of service and He can change lives, including our own. It makes me excited for what other opportunities He has for us to push us just a little bit more.
Are you ready?