I recently shared the response that I have received over the years to having to “church out of box.” Literally for the last 20 years we have been doing church each Sunday out of a 24’ car trailer and a connex storage box at a local school. We would move 17 carts along with 140 chairs that would be setup and then taken down each Sunday. It was not common to have people ask me how I/we could do that each Sunday year in and year out. The answer was simple, it was our ministry.
Our church is in the middle of the series “Living Above the Noise” on the book of Philippians. This past week we just finished up chapter 2. Oh what a great passage of Scripture. It contains a premier section on Jesus motivation and attitude in the work of Grace, salvation. The emphasis on the passage is Paul’s admonition to be other centered. The key verses for this portion of Scripture could be the admonishment, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3–4) It is an admonition to put into practice what distinguishes Biblical Christianity from all other religions, other-centeredness.
The challenge with putting others first is that it goes against the grain of our fallen nature. I struggle with this all the time in all areas of my life. I deal with it when needing to yield to merging traffic, when someone is being rude or difficult and even when I have to help resolve another’s mistake. What I am focusing on in these situations is what’s best for me, what I want. But the new life in Christ allows us to see and act differently. That is Paul’s point to the Philippian believers and to us. He is calling us to live up to our spiritual capacity to put the interests of others before ourselves.
You might ask, “How is this possible?” Well, it is possible through the Holy Spirit’s work in the believer. Paul reminded the Galatian Christians, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”(Galatians 5:22–23) I want you to read through the passage again and consider how each fruit would impact whether you are self-focused or other-focused. The simple truth is that as we invest in our relationship with Jesus we become more other-centered. You will also discover that your passion and commitment for ministry grows as well. Ministry is just another practical application of being other centered.
So how does this really relate to genuine ministry. If you have not figured it out yet, we embrace the mundane tasks as ministry. We realize that serving others calls us to be a servant. The end result is that the Lord is glorified and people are changed. I will miss moving carts, a little, but I am excited as we move into the new book of ministry being written in the days ahead at Living Hope. It is my hope that the Lord might stir a hunger in your life for genuine ministry!
-Pastor Joe Parkinson