In a loud voice Jesus said:
Everyone who has faith in me also has faith in the one who sent me. And everyone who has seen me has seen the one who sent me. I am the light that has come into the world. No one who has faith in me will stay in the dark.
I am not the one who will judge those who refuse to obey my teachings. I came to save the people of this world, not to be their judge. But everyone who rejects me, and my teachings will be judged on the last day by what I have said. I do not speak on my own. I say only what the Father who sent me has told me to say. I know that his commands will bring eternal life. That is why I tell you exactly what the Father has told me. (CEV)
Everybody has a philosophy of ministry of how to proceed with the actual doing of Christian works and service to others. We might think of philosophy as a theory about how to gain knowledge and what we are supposed to do with the knowledge we possess. We all have philosophies, even if they are not written down for others to see.
Ponder the thought that Jesus had a philosophy of ministry… which he did. If Christ’s words carry a lot of weight for us, then perhaps he articulated what he believes about the nature of knowledge; what to do with that knowledge; and, how to handle humanity. Contained within today’s Gospel lesson is the heart of Christ’s philosophical (and thus practical) approach.
Here are several observations about Christ’s philosophy of ministry:
- True faith is Trinitarian faith.
- Jesus came to dispel darkness by deposing its ruler.
- Jesus did not come to nit-pick, harangue, or reject people.
- Jesus came to save the world.
- Jesus has the authority to save the world.
- Belief in Jesus brings deliverance from sin, death, and hell.
Yes, there is a Day of Judgment coming – but that day is not today. Today is the day of salvation, of availing oneself of the opportunity to discover the life, teaching, claims, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ. Jesus has declared (in a loud voice so we can hear him) that he is the light of the world, the path to God, the Savior of humanity. Those are some very audacious assertions! So, before tomorrow comes, we need to consider the claims of Christ today.
Those whose philosophies include generous portions of people-pleasing and posturing for people-praise will not be judged or rejected by Jesus today (and, so, ought not to be rejected by us, as well!) but will be judged by the words and message of Jesus on the Last Day. According to this philosophy of ministry, there is neither a precedent nor a need to step in and (attempt) to do the Spirit’s work. Rather, we place our faith in Jesus and allow that belief to shape our conversations and interactions with others. A Christian philosophy of ministry does not need to be complex; it just needs to be Christ-centered.
Great God of deliverance, thank you that you sent your Son, Jesus, to save people from their sins. I believe in you and what you did and what you stand for. Each time I open my mouth, may you form my words so that they are not judgmental, but helpful in bringing others to realize life-giving faith through the power of your Holy Spirit. Amen.