Sunday, June 29, 2008

Struggle, Struggle, Strive...

There is a painting called "Forgiven" by Thomas Blackshear that I absolutely love. It speaks of the forgiveness that Jesus Christ has offered to all of us, even the one who pierced His hands and feet...I used to carry cards of this print and give them out when led...and I am not one for handing out literature, but I was so impressed with the message that the image conveyed that I wanted to share it with others.

The artist, Thomas Blackshear, has done something in his work that I pray I will one day be able to do consistently...he poured out his heart in his God-given talent to honour his King. I see many others do this also, the Brennflecks, Donna Lee, Oliver, Michael, Os, the nakedpastor...they are all working with their God-given talents to inspire others and honour God. (They are not all pastors either.) They work with what God has given them - the interest of their hearts - in the workplace and in the world, to do what they do.

Over the past few years, I have struggled (to say the least) with this notion of becoming a nurse. You see, I have always wanted to go to Bible College and work full time in a "pastor"-type position. This is the only way I thought I should serve God. But apparently my King has other plans. I was putting limits on where I thought I could best benefit the Kingdom of God, but I am recognizing now that God needs people in the work place, in every work place, from the construction site to the CEO's office to serve Him and bless others. And as we reflect the character of Christ, so that others will be impacted, it doesn't necessarily mean sharing the Gospel outright at first, but rather, loving people with the love of Christ, regardless of whether they want to know more about Jesus specifically or not. We leave the details to the Holy Spirit, in the mean time, we are called to honour God where we are. I know this is an old message, and perhaps you are shaking your head doing a "no-duh" moment at my 'revelation', but I mention it because I also have struggled with something else.

The church.

Where does the role of the church fit into our society today?

More and more, I am seeing churches, church buildings, becoming obsolete. The traditional form of church services are being shaken to their core...and many have fallen. Again, an obvious statement of fact that many veteran Christians are quite aware of, I know. The question is, what are we doing about it??

A friend of mine made an observation about our particular city. He said that the majority of churches are on the edge of the city where people are required to drive or take buses to get there and that very few churches are in the core of the city to reach out to those who do not have vehicles or the money to take the bus. This is an issue for several reasons, one of which is the churches outside the downtown tend to stay away from the downtown core - they do not see the needs that are there and thus do not extend their ministry there consistently, also, the people in the downtown core are not necessarily aware of these churches and have little interest in going out of their way to seek one out, especially on the edge of town.

There is also a whole (cross) generation of people that are absolutely turned off by the idea of attending 'traditional' church and will not even darken the door of such an institution! This is disturbing because, it is not that these people are not seeking, they have just shut out this particular venue as a consideration.

So, what do we do as the body of Christ? It is a no-brainer, really...get out of the pews and into the streets, right?! Maybe...Actually, serving our community by going out into the streets and addressing needs and sharing the Gospel is a good thing, but it is also not the only thing we can do. To do as Jesus did, we would take every opportunity to serve and minister to others in our neighbourhood, our workplace, our schools, etc. But few of us do this consistently. Why? We don't feel like it, fear, embarrassment, insecurities...the list goes on, I am sure. The thing is though, time is running out! As each day goes by, our lives become shorter (reality check!) and we are one day closer to the Lord's return. We don't have time to put off reaching out to our neighbours, friends, co-workers, family members...It is time to get out of the pews with our love for Christ and be the love of Christ in the world, our world, our mission field, our community, our backyard!

Oh wait...! One other place for ministry, for sharing the love of Jesus...THE INTERNET! This is a new mission field that opens up possibilities we could have never imagined! Whether it is through an encouraging email to someone, a word of blessing on Facebook, or a website dedicated to sharing the Word of God, there are countless opportunities to reflect the love and Truth of Jesus Christ!

The Church is changing. Traditional institutions are being challenged to transform to meet the needs of the people, not remain as is and expect the people to keep coming because "this is how we have always done it"...

For me, the struggle to accept that God could use me in the field of nursing just as powerfully as a pastor in a church, has taken me to a new level of understanding of how God works, again how I have boxed my God in -and how He is truly uncontainable...and how I need to maintain an open and teachable spirit, allowing the Holy Spirit to lead me and not depend solely on tradition.

Matthew 19:26 Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." Matthew 19:25-27 (in Context) Matthew 19 (Whole Chapter)

The link to "Forgiven" by Thomas Blackshear - Check it out!

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