Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Created in Christ Jesus

Growing up, if someone would've asked me how I would spend my Spring Break in college I would never have guessed I would be hanging out with church planters and prostitutes in the city of Baltimore. And yet, this is where I found myself just last week during Spring Break of my Senior year.
While I am constantly learning and growing, God has used these past 4 service projects through ISP/USP at CBU to get my attention in an entirely different way. Each experience has taught me a specific new lesson that challenge me, even to this day. In Baltimore, God continued to break down my judgment and reveal my sin to me in a new way.
In Baltimore, the Gallery church gave us "Neighbor Training." This unique name comes from both Colossians 4:5, "Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity" and also Jesus' response to two important questions:
What is the most important commandment?
Love God. Love Others.
Who is my neighbor?
Are you a neighbor? (Don't miss this... You ARE a neighbor!)
The gallery church is very intentional about being good neighbors to those around them in order to share the Gospel. They told us that the very fact that we were there displayed something about who God is. He is worthy of our time. He is worthy of our service.
A lot of our work in Baltimore was very practical (cleaning the church, organizing storage, taking inventory) but it is important to realize the implications of even these practical tasks. Jesus performed miracles because they: met a need, said something about who He was, and caused people to believe in what He was saying. Granted, cleaning is certainly no miracle, but the end results should be the same. Because of our service, God should be glorified and our testimony should be legitimized through action.
We were blessed to have some time to serve God through building relationships in the community. God took us each a step (or two) out of our comfort zone and the only thing we could do was love. Many of us on the team felt nervous, under-qualified and not able to relate on so many levels. We spent a day at a center, ministering to women in prostitution. We organized their donation cabinets, ate lunch with them, and also got to participate in the Depression 101 session where they talked about how they cope with depression.
The ministry of Jesus was received better by the tax collectors and prostitutes than those who called themselves righteous. "Jesus said to them, 'Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him." Matthew 21:31b-32.
It sounds strange, but Jesus was so edgy. We picture him sitting in fields with children and lambs surrounding him as He sings hymns. But there is so much more to the Christ of the Bible! This man went to the secret places, the places where the lowest in society could be found, the places of the heart that we hide from the world. After spending a day with these women, I have an enlarged heart for the lives that they live and an even deeper love for my Savior who saw their need. Many feel trapped and scared. Many have NO IDEA of the incredible value they have in the eyes of God. As I sat there listening to the heart breaking stories from the women, I fell more in love with Jesus Christ.
I learned that you can only walk with a person as far as the Holy Spirit has prepared them to go. Sometimes the best thing we can do is sit and listen. Sometimes we are called to greater action. Either way, we are called to be the help.
Ephesians 2:10
"For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God has prepared in advance for us to do."

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