Essential Ingredients Part II

 
Part 2 of 2

Essential Ingredients, Part II

 

After discussing the essential ingredients of Jesus’ ministry in Part I, let’s look at the Early Church for cues for the essential ingredients of ministry today.

“Preach this message: ‘The Kingdom of heaven is near, heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.’” Matthew 10:7-8

The church continued to understand and carry out this commission in the 400 hundred years that followed. This was why Christianity not only survived but thrived and multiplied despite the antagonistic religious and political environment and persecution from both Roman and Jewish establishments. Sick people were healed and set free from demonic influence (the power of their false gods). They were compelled to turn from their way of living and enter a new life under the Lordship of Christ as part of God’s family [3]. They converted to Christianity because they experienced the reality of this new life they were being told about.

It is clear that the first disciples of Christ obeyed His commission exactly, doing just what He said to do. Where did we ever get the idea that to carry out Christ’s commission involved anything else? We have more flavors of church and ministry than Baskin-Robbins’ and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavors combined, yet do those essential ingredients make up the essence of whatever we express or promote in Christ’s name?

Recently, a missionary to Africa contacted me regarding some suspected spiritual activity affecting their mission. In his opinion, there is little to distinguish what they are doing, in the Name of Christ, from what UNICEF and other government organizations are doing there. What a contrast to how Paul characterized his ministry: “My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power” (1 Cor. 2:4,5).

Here at home, there are numerous programs The Church offers to minister to those in The Body as well as to those in the community. While ministry should be encouraged, shouldn’t we examine programs for evidence that they contain those essential ingredients of Jesus’ ministry? More importantly, do these ministry programs result in the same kind of fruit that consistently characterized the ministry and commission of Jesus? For example, do programs that offer help to those with various addictions include the ministry of healing and deliverance that results in real freedom? If we are honest, aren’t most of these, despite their Christian veneer, essentially the same kind of management and accountability strategies found in secular gatherings?

The ministry of Jesus acknowledges and relies upon the Holy Spirit, who empowers and leads all people into truth. He is The Counselor who reveals what is hidden and what is yet to come.

Biblical freedom is not management. For the addict who has experienced the reality of Jesus’ ministry, the result is freedom from the compulsion to keep using. Healing is a process that comes once the root issues that lead a person to use are revealed and resolved.

The ministry of Jesus acknowledges and relies upon the Holy Spirit, who empowers and leads all people into truth. He is The Counselor who reveals what is hidden and what is yet to come. He leads us out of captivity into the freedom that is necessary for us to fulfill the purpose for which we were created in Christ Jesus. Only then will relational accountability and programs be of real assistance. Otherwise, they will continue to lack the power of God that results in biblical and experiential transformation. Programs and ministries come in a variety of flavors, but to be real and effective they must contain the essential ingredients of our Kingdom commission.