Are you ready to be shocked? You’ve been warned. I am about to type something that you never thought a nice, thoughtful pastor would write.
Jesus doesn’t want you to help other people.
I’ll wait while you read that again and try to figure out what in the world I could possibly mean with such an outlandish statement.
We have been taught in church for all of our lives that we are supposed to help others. We have had missionary lessons teaching us the importance of helping people in distant lands. We have had trainings to help people in our own community to deal with addictions. We have been trained to serve the homeless. We have been equipped to minister to shut-ins and to visit the sick. We have been given the task of teaching kids and teenagers about Jesus, and then immediately after those lessons we start teaching them to help others.
Scripture is clearly in support of other people being reached and served and helped, so what am I talking about?
Let me make my outlandish statement once more, but let me add to it: Jesus doesn’t want you to help other people, He wants to help other people through you.
Our training has all (mostly at least) been good, I am not throwing any babies out with any bathwater. We should be serving the addicted, the homeless, the sick and alone. We should be raising up children, teens, young people and old people to do the work of the Kingdom of God.
The distinction that I am making today is more something in our minds than in our actions. When we accept the idea that we are called to help other people we accept a huge responsibility. There is need and hurt and loss and the lost all around us. If it is our job to heal the world then we are grossly unqualified, and probably need to get fired!
However, Jesus is uniquely qualified to heal the world. He has paid the price to forgive the sins of humanity. He is in the process of bringing the Kingdom of God down to earth. He has chosen His people (us) as the vehicles THROUGH which He does this incredible work!
Years ago I was an Associate Pastor, and my boss explained to me why he didn’t take Mondays off (as many pastors do). He said that he was going to be in a terrible mood every Monday, so he might as well be at work rather than with his family.
The reason that he was going to be in a terrible mood is because (like many pastors) he was constantly overwhelmed and defeated by the vast gap between what he was capable of doing and what needed to be done as the leader of a church.
I really enjoy Mondays. I have had seasons when I was overwhelmed and defeated after a Sunday, but that changed when I accepted that my job was not to fix or heal or even truly lead this church. My job is to follow Jesus as He fixes, heals, and leads me and this church as He chooses. And He has chosen to call me, and to use me as a conduit. He leads and helps THROUGH me.
This truth is not just for pastors though. Jesus wants to help through you as well. He wants to visit people in your shoes. He wants to speak words of loving kindness and gentle wisdom with your voice. He wants to heal the wounds of people with your hands.
You need not carry a great burden for the task at hand. You need not doubt your own inability to do great things. You simply need to trust Him, follow Him, and go and do as He leads.
Jeremy Alger is the pastor of the New Cumberland Church of the Nazarene. They meet in person and online every Sunday. For more information please visit www.newcumberlandnazarene.com