Today We Launch a New Ministry…And I’m Scared to Death!
Becoming ambassadors of reconciliation
Today, through this blog, I am making the commitment to introduce a new area of ministry into the work of The Steward’s Journey. It’s not anything we planned, it’s not part of our three year strategy and I’m doing this without consulting my board. Am I crazy? Probably, but let me explain.
Last Friday my friend Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil was the guest speaker at the Spokane Leadership Prayer Breakfast. Brenda has dedicated her life to the ministry of reconciliation. She has a book out entitled, Roadmap to Reconciliation. So I was looking forward to her talk and I knew she would challenge us to support the work of reconciliation in our city.
I was not disappointed. She was her usual self; powerful and provocative, charming and winsome. She brought us a direct challenge to see our role and play our part in the work of reconciliation. And I cheered her on because, you see, this was her ministry. She was equipped and suited for this area of work. She was a consultant and scholar on the subject. So as long as I saw this as a ministry for people like Brenda, I could shout ‘Amen’!
When I got home I poured through her book, nodding and affirming as I read about the roadmap she proposed. “This will be a great help for those who are called to this kind of ministry” I said to myself again and again. And my mind was at ease. For you see, ‘those who are called’ did not include me.
It’s not that I’m opposed to reconciliation. I’ve written some about it and I believe it’s a thoroughly biblical theme. In some ways we should all be open to reconciliation in some form or another. But the intentional engagement with others unlike yourself for the singular purpose of unpacking hidden areas of mistrust and misunderstanding was, well, not my thing. That was why I was so happy to cheer on Brenda and ‘people like her’, people suited for this sort of work, people who have the ministry of reconciliation. Go get ‘em, I’m behind you…way behind you!
I might have gotten away with remaining in my detached comfort zone had I not taken the dangerous step of opening my Bible. My reading through second Corinthians brought me to chapter five where it reads,
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” (17-20)
My first reaction was to apply my theological tools to figure out how the ‘us’ to whom this ministry is entrusted did not include me. But of course, it does. Having been reconciled to God through the blood of Christ, we are now employed as His ambassadors, entrusted with the sacred work of bringing Christ’s healing and liberating reconciliation to all people.
That’s when it sank in that Brenda’s ministry is my ministry. It’s our ministry, all of us who seek to follow Jesus. We who have been reconciled are called to be reconcilers. It’s not one possible selection on the buffet line of ministry choices. It is and must be a part of everyone’s journey with Jesus.
Brenda defines reconciliation as,
“an ongoing spiritual process involving forgiveness, repentance and justice that restores broken relationships and systems to reflect God’s original intention for all creation to flourish.”
When I look at the steward theology that undergirds our work, I see a significant interconnectedness between the journey of the faithful steward and the work of an ambassador of the reconciling work of Christ. Next week I will post three places where this interconnectedness occurs.
For today, I am convicted that the message of The Steward’s Journey must include our commitment to discuss, challenge and take action as ambassadors and reconcilers. It’s out of my comfort zone, but that’s the point, isn’t it?
To my readers I ask, “Will you join us in this discussion from wherever you are in your life and work? Will you be open to how God might lead you to take up the mantle of ‘ambassador of the message of reconciliation’, first to God then to one another? Will you walk this journey with us?”
To Brenda I say, ‘we’re with you’, and I’ll give her the last word,
“When we take the courageous journey to discover our true selves, reconcile with others and live into God’s purpose, we become agents of change and transformation in a world that desperately needs healing.”