Towards a transformative ministry – Part 5
After our brief reflection on Jesus’ ministry, let us have a look at each aspect of Christian ministry. The first aspect we are going to discuss is evangelism. In evangelism, we demonstrate God’s love for the world (John 3:16). We do this out of obedience; “Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit…” (Matthew 28:19-20). What the apostles should teach the new converts as indicated in Mathew 28:20, is to submit to God’s Will, as revealed in Jesus’ ministry and teaching. In a transformative ministry, “there is no gospel that may distance itself in an enthusiasm of the Spirit from the earthly Jesus.” The idea here is that Jesus’ instructions remain valid and authoritative, also for the future. Any person embarking on evangelism is just a messenger. It is on this note that Bosch (2008:p.67) says; “Discipleship is determined by the relation to Christ Himself, not by conformity to an impersonal ordinance.” This shows why Matthew highlights the centrality of God’s Will for Jesus and the disciples.
We may, therefore, say that aside demonstrating God’s love for the world while embarking on evangelism, we also show the uniqueness of Christ; God who came in the flesh (Hebrew 1:1-3). Not only is Jesus the “express image” of God, but He is also God Himself. He worked with the Father in creating the world (John 1:3). So, in evangelism, we show Jesus as the full Revelation of God. Since Jesus is the complete expression of God in a human body, it therefore shows that Jesus is the only way to Salvation (John 14:6, Acts 4:12). Unless evangelism is seen as “the articulation of the good news of Jesus Christ and the kingdom of God to those who do not yet have a saving relation with God,” the mandate may not be properly adhered to.
In the Pastoral Epistles, Timothy and Titus could be seen as settled pastors and teachers, who watched over the morals of the flock and attend to their upbuilding in sound doctrine. However, the author of the letters includes the task of preaching the gospel to the unbelievers. The Church should be seen as a redeemed community. The task of the Church is to work according to the dictate of her Redeemer. So, evangelism is inviting people “to share in the blessings of redeemed life and community.” This is where the love for neighbour comes in while embarking on the ministry.
Love of neighbour may be regarded as the litmus test for love of God. A true evangelist must show love and concern to others. Jesus says if we truly love God and our neighbour, we will naturally keep the commandments. Rather than worrying about all we should not do, we should concentrate on all we can do to show our love for God and others (cf. Matthew 22:37-40). When we invite folks to share in God’s blessing, we have shown commitment that flows into deeds.
Without true love, we cannot make disciples, baptise or teach. Ministry demands obedience to God and serving in line with the essence of mission as stipulated by Matthew. The three terms that summarise the essence of mission are: make disciples, baptise and teach. It is necessary to emphasise the term ‘teach’. Teaching should be an appeal to individual or group’s will, not primarily to their intellect. It should be a call for a concrete decision to follow Christ and to submit to God’s Will.
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