Sitting in church this morning, I heard some teaching on Luke 5:27-32 (the story of Jesus calling Levi the tax collector to become Matthew the disciple) that led to me to ponder what we do through our ministry.
Here’s verse 29…
And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them.
When Levi discovered Jesus, his first response to the change that had taken place in his life and the joy he experienced was to throw a party and share his joy with his friends. And Matthew’s circle of friends was composed of people who were very much outsiders in the context of their culture. They were so despised that tax collectors and their family members could not enter the Temple in Jerusalem or their local …they couldn’t pay the temple tax because their money (or donations) weren’t accepted.
When God calls us to himself, he also calls us to pursue others. Think about your kids when something happens in their lives that makes them very happy…they can’t wait to share their good news with their friends and they can’t wait to tell you.
That’s how our ministry team is with our faith. Life’s hard. For me, figuring out how to keep our practice going, how to find the money to get our girls through college and how to have enough mental energy left at the end of the day to be a good husband and a good dad gets more and more difficult every day. During an election year, we face constant reminders of all the reasons for viewing the future as scary and threatening. As a psychiatrist, I’m surprised there aren’t more hopeless people than there already are wanting their lives to end.
Because of Jesus, I have reason to be hopeful about the future. I have something to fall back on when life doesn’t make sense…when I’m tired, when I don’t have much hope that I’ll be able to continue to do my job with excellence, when I worry about my kids. I have firsthand experience of God opening doors and providing for me in ways that I could have never imagined for myself. In a job in which I encounter many kids and many parents who struggle with anxiety, depression or hopelessness, I wonder how they can make it through the day without the foundation of a relationship with Jesus. Why would I not want to share that hope with the people I encounter in the course of my day?
I know Shannon feels the same way about families she encounters with kids with special education needs, or families wrestling with the challenges associated with parenting kids who have been adopted or kids who end up in the foster care system. And Ryan feels the same way about families of the young adults with developmental disabilities he encounters in the course of his work. Sandra and her husband recently picked up and moved their family halfway across the country because of their call to start a church in which families impacted by disability will be welcomed from day one.
In our postmodern culture, we’ve been conditioned to view our personal faith as a private matter. We’re not to “impose” our beliefs upon others. But is that the right thing to do? Is it wrong when we choose to withhold Jesus from the people whose paths we cross? From 2 Corinthians 5: 18-20…
All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
If our sickness is sin, our call is to be the hands and feet of Jesus in sharing the cure for sin…forgiveness and reconciliation. If we have something to share that can make a profound difference in the lives of the people around us that will comfort them now and make a difference in their lives for all eternity, how do we justify keeping our faith to ourselves?
Our team at Key is working to create resources and a social network to help families impacted by disability to connect with churches where they might experience the hope and joy that each of us has experienced resulting from the faith we have in Jesus.
This blog has had around 55,000 visitors this past month. I’d like to give each of our readers the following challenge during the coming month… You almost certainly know at least one family impacted by disability that doesn’t have a connection to a local church. We’re all called to “be the church” and you may the only church they ever experience. I’d ask that you’d pray for God to direct you to one family with whom you might develop a relationship so that you might share with them the reason for the hope you have in Jesus. Imagine the impact if all of us could share our faith with one family!
Jesus calls us to a party. We’re called to invite our friends and neighbors to the party.
Thanks to Mike Vonderau for the inspiration for today’s post.
Many of our 8,500+ friends who access this blog through the Key Ministry Facebook page see a small percentage of the content we post. In the event you missed something that was quite popular among your fellow readers, check out our ten most popular blog posts of 2015. Adoption, trauma and ADHD were quite the hot topics this past year!
Our team at Key Ministry is honored to be able to serve you, your church and your family in 2016!
The pastor of ResLife Church spoke frankly yesterday (Jan. 30th) about our call to “just go” and disciple the nations -right here. Right now. I’m convicted. And yet, I participate in church from my couch, online, because I am one of those families who struggle greatly in the environment of church. You are right. You are blessing. You are confirming God’s Word today. Praising God. Looking for those to share with. Thank you!
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Thanks for responding! Families sitting on the couch because of their inability to do “bricks and mortar” church have the ability to do powerful things for the Kingdom by inviting others with similar issues to join them online. We’d be interested in hearing more from you about your online experience and how it could be a blessing to other families.