I have been spending some time this week being in a reflective mood. Part of this reflection has been on how many sermon illustrations I have gathered from my staghorn kidney stone saga! I’m looking forward to the doctor saying that we are “done” with this medical process, but I’m starting to wonder when this is going to happen. I’m waiting right now on the insurance company to approve a CT Scan so that we can see how much of the kidney stone is left in me. Maybe it’s all gone (a guy can hope!). For the past sixty-three days my biggest complaint has been about my kidney stent. I have complained long and often about it. Without mincing many words, I have made it clear that I’m not a big fan of my kidney stent, and I want this thing out of me! This week I have started to change my mind.
My most recent procedure (last Wednesday) used sonic vibrations to help break up my kidney stone. Since then my body has been eliminating hundreds of pieces of stones out of my kidney. Being a good analytical, I have done some counting. In just one instance I counted over sixty stone fragments. In the last six days I have recovered (this sounds way better than saying “toilet dived”!) nine larger fragments of the stone. Without my kidney stent, all of these pieces of stone represent an incredible amount of pain. With my wonderful kidney stent, I have been pain-free during this elimination period. Isn’t it funny that some of the things that we most bitterly complain about end up being used by God as a blessing? Is there anything that you have been complaining about?
This last week I have heard a lot of complaints about our political system, especially about the confirmation process for our Supreme Court candidate. It has been painful watching all of this. I’m thinking, though, that it is necessary for there to be extreme discomfort in order for there to be enough motivation to bring about change. I’m optimistic that God is bringing about positive changes in our country, including in our political system. Are we personally uncomfortable enough to help bring about these changes?
The bottom-line issue that I see is about power. There is a constant tension between the power that we have, and the power that we submit to. How often is power abused? The abuse of power causes destruction and pain. Those who mis-use power can camouflage and minimize the destruction, pain, and harm, but they don’t have the ability to make it disappear. The truth has a way of eventually coming out. Are we truth seekers, or would we prefer not to be burdened with the truth?
It is easy to talk about the power and responsibilities that other people have, but what about our own power? Each of us has some. Our choices effect the lives of other people. Our use of power can build people up, or tear people down. How are we using our power?
These same questions apply to our churches. How are we using our power? Are there times when we pretend as a church that we don’t have any power so that we don’t have to get involved? Together we have a tremendous amount of power! We have decisions to make, many of which are difficult and are going to move us out of our comfort zones. Are we willing to do this? Let me rephrase this. If God is nudging us (sometimes pushing us!) to get involved, are we willing to respond?
When we talk about “ministry”, we are really talking about ways that we use our power to (hopefully) make a positive difference in the world in the name of Jesus Christ. I’m of the mind that every single Christian in our churches should personally be involved in activities that they consider to be ministry. As we seek church vitality, I believe that this is one of the ways that we will achieve it. I have already been told on several occasions that it is unrealistic to expect that every Christian in our churches is going to be involved in ministry. That people are just too busy. I think that as Christians it is unrealistic to expect that we can resist being involved in ministry! This is a basic part of who Christ has called us to be.
One of my hopes for the South District (and beyond) is that we will find more ways to share the ministries that we are already involved with, and to find ways to dream together about future ministries. Let’s encourage one another to truly release the power of Christ into the world!
Your brother on the journey, Mark