Practical Thoughts on Ministering to Neighbors, Part 2 of 3

Perhaps it is better to throwPart Two: One Thing You Must Forget When Ministering to Neighbors

Read Part One of this series here.

In my last column, I suggested that we need to remember Christ’s love as the key to ministry to our neighbors. Indeed, without Christ’s love compelling us, we will fizzle out if we ever take a step. So, remember Christ’s love for you. This time, I’m going to tell you the one thing you should forget: convenience.

It was barely 8:00 am and my neighbor was standing at my front door. Pajama clad, she said that she feared her husband was dead. I ran over to see what had happened. Indeed, something was wrong with her husband and we called 911. So, began our Tuesday at the Emergency Room. (Thankfully, her husband was not dead and he did in fact recover from a stroke).

You’ve heard it said, “Life wouldn’t be so hard if we didn’t expect it to be so easy.” Same is true for outreach. We expect it to be easy; to fit within a nice, scheduled block of time in our overloaded schedules. But usually, the most meaningful service is also the most inconvenient—and costly.

Should we be surprised? Jesus was not only willing to be inconvenienced, he was willing to die. Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me” (Matt. 16:24).

If we’re going to be effective, we’re going to need to come to grips with the fact that effective ministry is usually inconvenient. I doubt this is a newsflash. We have been sensitized to personal inconvenience and conditioned that we don’t have to put up with it. (If we don’t like the wait, we can always go to another store.) But God’s love was willing to be inconvenienced.

Are we prepared to be inconvenienced in order to reach our neighbors and the world? This is why we need to marinate in the truths of who we are in Christ. When we see how “inconvenienced” Jesus was for each one of us –and the wealth of what He has so freely and graciously given us because of his “inconvenience”– it gives us the strength to actually lay aside convenience to help others.

Continue to Part three.