You may want to read Romans 15:1-6 in the Message before continuing…
We Americans sure don’t like getting our hands dirty. I remember early on when I first started serving in the ministry, I wanted to take a group of Youth down to the local homeless shelter to minister to the hurting people there. One parent came to me with some concern for his child. He inquired, “Couldn’t we just take up a love offering and send it?”.
I still hear that mindset pouring out from the mouths and hearts of many people throughout the church today. I hear things like, “I am glad that you enjoy mission work so much, but I just don’t travel well – I couldn’t do it”. Yet, we all know that you don’t have to leave your own town to be a missionary – but you do have to get your hands dirty. What is it about us that is afraid to dig in? What are we so terrified of that causes us to run from any form of ministry that might get us a little dirty while engaging in? I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I think the Lord may be illuminating this for me.
If you have been keeping up, you know that our church leadership is reading The Emotionally Healthy Church by Peter Scazzero. In the book, Scazzero asks how we would respond if someone came into our midst and unloaded their emotional baggage as David did in Psalm 69. Unfortunately, I believe that most of us would be a little dumbfounded. In the face of such real hurt and anguish, I think we would realize that our traditionally pat answers like, “Just trust Jesus” would fall short of ministering to this man’s real needs. And I believe that therein lies the answer to the question about getting our hands dirty.
It seems to me that we have all managed to figure out “evangelical churchianity” quite well. We know the right things to say to other Christians. We know when to say praise the Lord or Amen, but do we know how to minister to the lost? Do we know how to bring comfort to the hurting? Do we know how to bring wholeness to the sick? For the most part – No, we don’t… And why? Because we have been led by people that have been unwilling to get their hands dirty and, in turn, we have been unwilling to get ours dirty… Let me explain:
Listen to how Paul explains Jesus’ actions in this area, “He didn’t make it easy for himself by avoiding people’s troubles, but waded right in and helped out. “I took on the troubles of the troubled,” is the way Scripture puts it.” How did the Apostles know how to minister to the hurt and the needy? They saw Jesus wade right into those waters and minister to the downtrodden. Most of us hear this and think of a million reasons why we can’t do this. Some of this is fear, some is insecurity, but while we are wallowing in our own fear and insecurity, people all around us are hurting and sick – and some are even dying and going to hell!
So how do we get over our fears? We need to face them. We need to prove to that enemy that the God we serve is greater than the fears he tries to plant in us. We need to be willing to get our hands dirty. So look around and ask the Lord, where can I plunge in today? He probably wont’ send you to Africa (although he might), most likely he will remind you of that hurting person that you saw last week… He is calling us to minister just as He did – Can you hear Him?