What would you do if you knew you couldn't fail? How would that choice or action share Jesus’ Love with others?
I recently began asking that question of many things. I know some of my habits and patterns as a pastor were formed when Sundays didn't have community sports, when most stores were closed on Sunday, and when photocopy machines weren't in the church office. I now photocopy, text, preach-from-a-tablet, use a Smartphone and find good things in all these changes. Yet, all my ways of living the love of Jesus don’t reflect the changes in the world around. So I've been asking, “What needs to be updated to fit in God’s world?” God says, “See, I’m doing a new thing!” (Is.43:19)
When I started as a pastor 30 years ago I could visit a whole list of shut-ins in an afternoon because they were always home and lived in the community near the church. Now they are spread out and their retirement communities have worship, buses to the doctor & store, activities and assistive tools allowing family to include them in offsite activities. All great things, and now finding one or two shut-ins available in an afternoon can be a challenge. So when I asked, “How can the church show care to these folks?” we, a community of caring, began using a team of people and one-on-one communion “friendship” visits. I focused on special needs, hospitals, requests and crises, all of which are often our shut-ins. It’s not perfect yet, but it’s an adaptation in progress. Jesus says that all of us are to be a part of, “Love one another.” (John 13:34)
Another question I've had to ask myself is, “What am I unwilling to change in order to share Jesus’ love?” I want to say “nothing,” but my actions may say differently. I want to learn how to put everything in God’s hands. Faith wisdom says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.” (Prov. 3:5)
Our church has a recent meeting about building modifications including a strong vote pursuing a redesigned, welcoming entrance, a change, so that we can get a barrier or two out of the way of sharing Jesus’ love. That is a celebration! What else do we hold onto? What other ways of being the church and doing ministry do we need to ask these questions of?
This year we had a Vacation Bible School meeting and asked these same questions and changed our strategy from a 5 weeknight pattern to a one day festival event. Why? Because we don’t want to fail in sharing Jesus’ love. Because people’s schedules have changed dramatically since we began a weeknight pattern. Because we believe that we were listening to God’s voice leading in new ways. Because the word of God says, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.” (Lk.8:21)
For me I want to care for all and sometimes hesitate to change out of fear that I’ll be uncaring. Fear, I know, isn't God’s way of working and yet it sometimes gets in my way. For me sometimes I want more information about things that are hard to measure, and yet I know that God works first with transformation and doesn't lead with information. Failing to follow God out of perceived lack of information is putting information higher than faith in God. The wisdom of scripture reminds us to put God first and says, “But more than anything else, put God’s work first and do what he wants. Then the other things will be yours as well.” (Mt. 6:33)
It is simple and yet complicated. Simple is, “Love God and love neighbor.” (Lk.10:27) Complicated is in the how. So back to my original question, beyond the complications, “What would you do if you knew you couldn't fail? How would that choice share Jesus’ Love?