“Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’ When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.’”
~ Matthew 19: 21-23
I recently visited an agency ministering to disfigured children. The agency’s owner (let’s call him “Allen”) has done wonders for these kids…but his work is drawn from anger rather than love. He’s angry about cultural practices that disfigure the children, as well as South African society’s ignorance to such abuse. As a missionary for the UMC in South Africa, I think often of ministry’s dangers. When one works with the poor and marginalized, it’s very easy to become disheartened with the sinful state of humanity. Anger can lead to hatred, and when we begin to hate, suffering is inevitable.
Because Allen cannot let go of his hatred, he alienates more people from his ministry rather than attracting them, thus affecting support for these children. He’s lost sight of how Jesus drew all types of followers to ministry: by speaking truth with love.
Speaking truth with love doesn’t mean we can’t get angry; it means we don’t let our anger control us. It means guiding newcomers to ministry with a reassuring hand, whilst being honest wish a situation’s reality. Truth without love is brutality, while love without truth is sentimentality.
In his ministry, Jesus engaged others by revealing personal stumbling blocks (e.g., wealth), but also not condemning the choice to turn away from discipleship. It is the same for us us when our hearts are hardened. Being engaged with truth and love leaves us open to change our minds about ministry. It also helps us testify to the power of love.
Branches, Miami, FL
MI Class 2012
Advance # 3021492