I want to thank Jason Lewis for contributing this piece reflecting his personal experiences in caring for his mom. As a volunteer chaplain at a nursing facility for over 25 years I am delighted to be joined by someone else who does what they can, where they are to serve those in that vulnerable chapter […]
“It Takes a Village to raise a child” African proverb
When I think of the many years that I struggled on my own trying to lovingly and effectively minister at the nursing home, I am amazed it didn’t come to me sooner. The work of the church is to share the good news about Jesus Christ. Though there are times when we stand alone to do this, the bigger picture has always been that we do this best together.
Nothing showed this more clearly than our Christmas program at Allied this year. From the littlest angel to the oldest wise man we worked together. From the staff who brought the many people to and from the event to the ladies who spent hours washing and putting together the crowns, halos, robes and shawls we all worked together. None of us could have presented the story of Christmas alone. During practices sometimes we were short on shepherds or wise men, but for the main event everyone showed up! We discovered that when God gets to work with the whole village He can do more than we could ever imagine!
1 Corinthians 12:12 For as the body is one and hath many members and all of that one body being many are one body : so also is Christ
And certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities—Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance. Luke 8:2-3 NKJV
In a world of 7.3 billion people the church has never faced a greater task. Whether we are in the West or the Middle-East, the job remains the same. Whether our meeting place is Asia or Europe our challenges are great. But Jesus and His word have not changed, and the resources available to the first century church are still available to us today. Jesus has called us as a team and an army to go and tell the world the Good News about salvation. No army leaves behind half its troops on the way to its most important battle. No team in World Cup play allows half its members to rest on the sidelines. Today let’s consider the importance of our fellow teammates and our comrades in arms. Women in our churches are certainly kept busy, but keeping busy and fulfilling their calling is not always the same thing. The question isn’t about who is better or stronger, but rather why have we tried to enter the spiritual battlefield with one hand tied behind our backs?
In a cursory reading of the New Testament many people have come to the conclusion that Jesus was primarily interested in using men in his ministry. Though the apostles were all men, the Bible in fact does not make much of their ministry beyond the fact that they followed Jesus around and on rare occasions were sent out to preach. In fact, it was the men who often didn’t seem understand Jesus. Peter thought Jesus should forget about the cross. Thomas doubted that Jesus rose from the dead. James and John wanted to call fire down from heaven on the heads of some Samaritans. The entire group of the apostles went into one Samaritan village and never mentioned Jesus to the people while they went food shopping. Meanwhile Jesus met a woman at a well who immediately went and brought a crowd out to see him!
The New Testament is filled with stories of women who seem to be attuned to the practical needs of Jesus and to understand how He might choose to operate far more quickly than the men. The Syro-Phoenician woman came to Jesus begging him to deliver her daughter (Mark 7:25-27) The disciples response was to ask Jesus to send her home! A year later after Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead Mary came to anoint His feet while the disciples, headed by Judas, began to complain about the enormous waste.
Jesus chose to honor women throughout the gospels. He defends the adulteress, honors Mary, uses the woman at the well to reach her entire village and makes sure while dying on the cross that his mother will be cared for by John. On the morning of His resurrection Jesus first met with Mary Magdalene and used her as His messenger to the apostles. For the church of the 21st century to succeed and be the overcoming church that Jesus meant us to be we must all be doing our own parts.
In a failing church our differences drive us apart. To become a victorious church we must recognize our need for one another. No messenger is unqualified, no need insignificant, no act of mercy too useless and no person counted useless in ministry. Instead of praying for Jesus to send the people away who seem to be a bother, maybe we should listen to what Jesus has to say.
Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4 NKJV