A recent Buzzfeed video depicts questions Christians would like to ask other questions. Among them is a question about the real meaning of ministry.
The video asks a variety of questions, some tongue-in-cheek, like, “Do you really think He’s freaking out because His name is not on a cup you can hold for 10 minutes while you drink a Pumpkin Spice Latte?” and others somewhat more serious, like, “Why, when Paul said we all have our own individual gifts, that we feel the need to fit into this absolutely perfect mold?” and “Why are we as Christians more known for the things we hate than the things we love?”
Here’s the question that jumped out at me:
“Why do you feel like I have to constantly be preaching in order to be a ‘Good Christian?’ Is showing my friends love and grace not allowed to just speak for itself sometimes?”
Those acts certainly ought to speak for themselves, but I’ve seen the attitude that if someone can’t spout off a dozen Bible verses in every conceivable conversation, something’s wrong with their faith. How did we get here?
Somehow, I don’t think we got here by way of the Bible.
That’s because the Bible itself makes the point that ministry is more than about delivering a sermon. When Christ spoke of the parable of the sheep and goats, he was referring to those who ministered to others, who demonstrated the concept of “loving thy neighbor.” Christ says the Father will invite those who have done so to accept their inheritance in Heaven:
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”
Not once is “preaching” mentioned. Why? I’d like to think that living out what has been preached, thereby demonstrating a living example of God’s commandments, does speak for itself to those around us, sometimes more effectively than even an above-average sermon can.
To put it another way, it’s easy to quote a rule. It’s more difficult to be the example of the rule. But the later, by comparison, speaks volumes.
Just as each person is different, each person’s gifts are different. We should keep that in mind before we next raise our eyebrows over someone else’s show of compassion that is not accompanied with a mini-sermon.