Throughout my life, I’ve been privileged to be one of the many and proud, in fact too proud, children granted behind the scenes insight regarding both church and para-church ministry. My whole life has been one long participation in ministry through my mother and father’s ministry as missionary and pastor. My life as a PK/MK allowed for both the joy and burden of seeing ministry up close. It was, is, and—I hope—shall ever be a way of life.
I could go on about my mom and dad all day. I could tell you about all the wonderful things my dad exudes. I could tell you the same thing about my mom, but that would be in the past tense. She is with our Savior now. I could tell you about all she had and all he has to teach others through their words and their actions. However, I think that is not what they would want. A better use of my time will be to go on and on about the Man who led by His own actions and taught my mom and dad all those wonderful things about life and ministry. Examining any part of the life of Christ is to partake in the ultimate ministry upgrade. Drawing anything from His example is greater than diving deep into any other’s example.
One of His examples—one that has touched me more perhaps than most—is found in a small passage of Mark’s Gospel. It snaps me back from pride—something beating inside me most of my life regardless of the fact that it was the furthest thing from the example I found in home and ministry. In Mark 2:13-17, I see in my Savior that there is no room for status and ego when it comes to loving those God has created. Jesus walked with and taught the people. Sometimes people thought of by others as unsavory, undesirable, even unwanted. One of these folks was Levi the tax collector.
Tax collectors were the down and out of Jewish society. They were hated as traitors by their Israeli countrymen and as lackeys by their Roman employers. Yet, Jesus told Levi to follow Him. And then…what?! Within two sentences Jesus, the Messiah, King, and Lord, is eating with all the tax collectors and sinners! You have to see this in its historical context. The reigning Jewish holy men—Pharisees and Sadducees—were nothing like Jesus. They set up religion through rules, regulations, ritual, and ridiculousness. No wonder that during this historical event between Jesus, Levi, and Levi’s friends they were beside themselves with frustration over that single, seemingly low act of this upstart Rabbi. In their eyes, He was fellowshipping with the low-life! He was touching the untouchables! He was mixing religious correctness with scum! They should have seen it, accepted it, and reveled in it for what it was—the love of God falling down on people who have not known much of love. They should have seen it. (And so should I.)
Instead, their frustration and anger, their sense of what’s proper forced them to ask the Lord’s followers, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” What Mark recorded next is beautiful. Mark 2:17— “On hearing this, Jesus said to them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’”
Wow! I’m not a Bible scholar, but these words seem pretty clear to me. I might prefer being exclusively with people like myself, but that is not what I should prefer. I may have prejudice and pride, but I should not. I’m a pastor’s daughter. Church life is my second home—as it should be. However, it can’t be my permanent place of dwelling. Neither should it be my preferred place of dwelling. Mom and Dad taught this to me by action, by word, and, most importantly, from the Word of God. Still pride found its way into my heart. There it puffed itself up…beating me up. Instead of following Mom and Dad, I followed the way of the Pharisees. In junior high the beating began. In high school the beating continued. Then Mark 2:13-17 whipped my heart.
Humility hit me like a ton of bricks. How dare I call myself a good daughter of a missionary/pastor if I couldn’t spend a little time with those in need of God’s love? Christ exuded sacrifice, humility, and compassion. But more than that, it wasn’t just sacrifice and compassion. He just loved people. He loved them right there, right then, just the way they were. They did not have to change for Him to love them. It wasn’t about whether or not they deserved love. He loved. It was his joy to love. It was his nature. And if we are true children of God, it is also our nature.
Sometimes love just gets buried behind junk that has no part in our new nature. We need to–I need to–say yes, yes, yes to the person God created, not in the womb of an earthly mother, but in the new birth of salvation. I might be a missionary/pastor’s daughter, but I’m a child of the Most High God first and foremost. I have not been called to reach the healthy. I have been called to reach sinners. Really. It’s true. Jesus later said, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
So okay, I still struggle. Pride still finds time to beat me. I admit it, but I also hate it. I really don’t want it. I want instead to love those who need to see Jesus. It’s what our team wants. It’s what I hope you will pray for when you think of Jesus and Jessie Ministries.
How about you?