“Ministry… is not so much asking Christ to join us in our ministry as we offer him to others; ministry is participating with Christ in his ongoing ministry as he offers himself to others through us.” – Stephen Seamands
In this week’s blog I reflect on the first two chapters of Stephen Seamands’ book, Ministry in the Image of God: The Trinitarian Shape of Christian Service.
Trinitarian (Father, Son, and Spirit) ministry is all encompassing in the life of a follower of Christ. Yet, many churches do not reflect a Trinitarian language. God is only partially represented in our worship gatherings, private studies, and daily disciplines.
From the beginnings of our faith, we are baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit. (Although some might disagree; someone once sent me an anonymous handwritten booklet on how we should baptize in Jesus’ name only). Our life of faith then proceeds as partners with the Trinity.
We are to join Christ and not look for him to join us. It’s not enough to want to do things for God we must seek to be transformed by God.
I don’t just work for him; I work to know him.
Our divine order is to commune with the God who lives in community with himself and offers community to us. I must be filled by the Spirit.
He can not only be present in my life he must be president. I may possess the Spirit but I must allow him to possess me.
In chapter 2 Seamands talks about the Relational Personhood of the Trinity. He focuses on three commitments in our interpersonal relationships. 1) A Commitment to wholeness. 2) A commitment to involvement. 3) A commitment to healthy family relationships. In other words, the Trinity teaches us to practice relational wholeness with others as we live in community with God.
Because of sin we operate out of fear and self-protection. Instead we must learn to operate out of love.
Seamands, as young boy attended boarding school, which made him withdraw emotionally from his parents and anyone who wanted to get close to him. It was his defense mechanism to keep himself from getting hurt or disappointed. As an adult, he could not give himself fully to his wife or children. It took concerned colleagues and divine intervention for him pursue relational wholeness with family and friends.
Living in the image of God is living in community with others. Our acceptance of others and our willingness to become vulnerable in their presence is shaped by our Trinitarian understanding.
We cannot serve God alone.
Seamand writes, “When John Wesley was a young Christian, a ‘serious man’ advised him, ‘Sir, you wish to serve God and go to heaven? Remember you cannot serve him alone. You must therefore find companions or make them. The Bible knows nothing of solitary religion.’”
To practice ministry with others –
- Create or join a small group.
A small group is where you can share life together with other followers of Jesus. Where do you go when you are discouraged, weary, or in pain? Who do you share spiritual victories? What environment do you have to share your faith with others?
- Create healthy family dynamics.
Set boundaries. To have a healthy family you must learn to respect the boundaries of each person in your family unit. Boundaries draw lines in how different members interact with each other. Undefined boundaries will cause the family to intrude on each persons, thoughts, feelings and disrupt communication. It doesn’t allow a person to be their whole self.
Submit to one another. Husbands submit to wives and wives submit to husbands. Children submit to parents and parents submit to children. Mutual submission allows each family member to another’s needs before their own. Mutually submission leads to mutual love.
Commit to being connected with God.
Your first instinct may be to go it alone but you cannot do life by yourself. God created you to partner with Him and others. That’s ministry in His image.
Do you think churches lack Trinitarian language? How do you choose to live in community with others? Where have you seen community practiced well?
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