2 Timothy 4:9-22
Relational realities in ministry, for the man of God – Part 2
The church is not a gallery for the exhibition of eminent Christians but a school for the education of imperfect ones. It is not a place for perfect people but a retreat and recovery place for people who know they are ill. It is a society of sinners – the only society in the world where membership qualification of any individual is made possible by the death and resurrection of another - Jesus Christ who died so that sinners may become members of his Body.
The church is full of problematic relationships because its membership is imperfect; the Lord who said he would build his church, is not yet done with the church. We are saved by grace, but nonetheless with unredeemed human flesh, consequently battling with sin at all times. Therefore, the church grows in direct proportion, spiritually, to how well it deals with the sin within it. The wayward people need to get back inline and this is the work of God’s grace. The worried people need to have a stronger courage and faith and boldness and confidence. The weak need to be more disciplined in the matter of holy living, and the worrisome need to get up to speed, and the wicked need to do righteously. This is by God’s grace.
Because of the nature of the church, relational conflict is inevitable. But grace has been God’s provision for relational dealings throughout history, so that even Jesus faced relational conflict with great love for the sinner and explicit hatred for sin – having come in fullness of grace and truth. In this way, Jesus demonstrated and practiced love, and real love has teeth. It bites, though graciously.
So how can we be seasoned with such grace? Would the internet and its social media help? The glut of electronic information streaming into our lives through information technologies has only deepened our tendency to think that we can determine as well as carry our worth and identity. It has deeply impacted our ability to maintain a Christian worldview, substantially weakening Gospel-reality in our relationships.
It offers us self-invention marked by a transition away from absolute truth to the self. This is of course the polar opposite of receiving your identity from the gospel of Jesus Christ. The social media of the internet has become a kind of mirror into which people gaze for connection, feedback, affirmation, and recognition.
Social media helps us avoid relational wounds, but relational realities imply that there is no church without wounds. A church without wounds is an easy sell in a world where words are cheap. Only wounds call for honest self-examination, because the church’s ideal state supplies to her the standard of her duty, and to approach nearer to it ought to be her constant effort.
Since “a relationship” can be explained by how you feel about someone when you think about him or her, ministry is synonymous with relationships. Relationships assess our ministry motivation, evaluate our ministry priorities, determine our ministry structure or shape, formulate our interpersonal dynamic and give ministry its thrust and movement. The feelings left by any thoughts about someone are the shapers of ministry to them, are the thrust of ministry by them or ministry alongside them in any given network.