A message for the week starting on Sunday 11 September 2022
Lectionary Week: 14th Sunday After Pentecost
Prescribed Texts: Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28, Psalms 14, 1 Timothy 1:12-17, Luke 15:1-10
We are Saved to Serve
Focus Text: Jeremiah 4:11-12
The text from Jeremiah 4 paints a gloomy picture, while the one from Luke 15:10 paints an atmosphere of joy. The former looks at the impact of sin and the latter looks at the “remedy” for sin, which we call salvation.
We often fall into the sin of disobedience and doubt on our journey with the Lord Jesus. He knows we are mortal and He does not want to load that on us. Simply pointing it out becomes a reminder to us that we indeed need His constant guidance, direction and love. These three words state clearly what we as the Body of Christ need in the face of HIV and AIDS – we need guidance, direction and love.
Guidance is demonstrated by those who have been equipped to lead others in the ways God’s people should go. The text in 1 Timothy 1 teaches us to be grateful when we realize that we have been endowed with a specific skill, role or ability in ministering to God’s people. Seize the opportunity! Be grateful for it and make good use of it, because great is your reward in heaven. Performing this role in the body of Christ in the HIV epidemic includes disseminating information on issues pertaining to the pandemic; it includes giving guidance about positive attitudes that will eliminate stigma and discrimination based on the HIV status of congregants; yes, even outside the Church we ought to deal with stigma and discrimination. This we do not only need to teach, but we also need to demonstrate it in practical ways.
Direction can only be given by one who is informed, or who has walked the way before. Ministry to the Body of Christ is so real when a minister says “come, let us walk this way”, or says, “Thus says the Lord”. Paul says in one of his epistles, “Follow me as I follow Christ”; Giving direction means taking responsibility for showing the flock the way they should go. This comes from a commitment to serve God’s people; a realization that we are God’s ultimate handiwork created for good works. In Luke 15, we see a shepherd leaving the 99 sheep to go and look for just one lost. This demonstrates care and compassion for each and every soul that is under our care. You are not just giving direction from a hollow set-up, but from an attitude of love!
Love for God and His people. Love for the affected and infected – that means for all of us! It is the love of God that compels us. His love is demonstrated to us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us . . . so that we may live.
Serve God’s people; love God’s people. It is the responsibility of everyone that has said “yes” to the message of salvation; everyone who calls Jesus’ ‘Lord’, to demonstrate the love of God to another human being.
To think about: If I know I have been called to minister to the Body of Christ, have I remained focused on my mission?
Written by: Pastor Godfrey Mhlanga, Director, ACET (Aids Care Education Training), Zimbabwe and trained Churches Channels of Hope (CCoH) facilitator