Monday, August 23, 2004

Neither Jew nor Greek
I think we made a big mistake when we first talked about having a ministry to Hispanics. I think it was a very honest and sincere mistake, but an error nonetheless. One of our desires was to reach out to the people in our community with love and service. That was good. We wanted to be intentionally diverse. That was good. There was an individual who had a vision for serving the Hispanic population and had the skills to do it. That was good.

The problem was that whenever we talk about having a ministry to a certain group we start thinking in a 'them' and 'us' mentality. We (the Christians in this faith community) will serve them (a distinct group not part of our community). I am not fussing over the language of describing realities. The Hispanics we were wanting to serve were not sharing life with us, and our goal was not to 'convert' them to our group. But it is almost a condescending position that we assume when we target a group in that way, though all very unintentionally.

Even though the goal was to serve and not get them to join our group, it would have almost been impossible for them to become full participants in our faith community had they wanted to do that. It would have been more like they would have always been labeled as those to whom we minister. Maybe I'm not expressing this distinction very well, but I think there is something real here.

By God's working our faith community has become more diverse, but that has been because God has brought African families into this body of believers to share in both giving and receiving. If we had a ministry to Africans I think we would be putting them at a lesser place. Instead, God has shown us how we don't have a ministry to certain groups, which presupposes they will be mainly receivers, but God has expanded our community to include more believers, who though having different perspectives and experiences than some of us, stand equal with us in ministering to one another. The differences are obvious culturally, in experience, and even the articulation of our faith, but God is showing us how to be neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female . . . as God intends. We have not put these individuals into a mental category of those to whom we minister, and so we have been blessed as they minister to the rest of the congregation in teaching, leadership, and service. I believe God is teaching us how to live as the Kingdom of God in which all peoples serve one another without worldly distinctions. Praise God!

1 comment:

David Duer said...

Powerful and so true! We as a church on a college campus also struggle with this mentality. We say we minister to the college students and the drawback is now we have two groups of people who do not communicate because of the "us v/s them." dilemma. Thank you Greg for reminding me that we are all to work together.
David Duer