Serving–Held Responsible for Our Own Faithfulness: a Reflection on Ezekiel 2:1-5 and Mark 6:1-13

Did you know that the average amount Microsoft spends each month assisting people who need to change their passwords in $2,000,000?[1]Microsoft cares about its reputation. Regardless the response of their customers about the hassle of passwords, Microsoft is gracious and willing to help. Microsoft is faithful to its business strategy.

Each one of us cares deeply for the ministries in which we are involved. Whether that ministry is with Veterans, Geneva Presbyterian Women, the Love Project – Laguna, Orphans in Kenya, Sunday School, Boys and Girls Club, South County Outreach, Middle School, the Love Project – Tijuana, Orange County Rescue Mission, Geneva Presbyterian Men, Chancel Choir, Rowdies, the church library, the Board of Deacons, front desk receptionists, Courtyard Café, the Session, and the list goes on, we are committed. What is the common thread? A love for Jesus, others, and the recognition that “we are not held responsible for the response to our ministries in Christ’s name, but only for our own faithfulness.”[2]Like Ezekiel, not worrying about people’s response, we provide encouragement to one another as we are faithful to God’s call.

Immediately following WWII, a commitment to evangelism swept into local churches. Author C. Peter Wagner, in his book titled Humility, says that the “two who became best known for hearing what the Spirit was saying and taking leadership were Billy Graham and William Branham.”[3]We know who Billy Graham is. But, William Branham? For years, Branham’s meetings were larger than Graham’s. Branham delivered prophecies, prayed for people to be healed, and thousands came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. But, introductions for Branham became filled with glowing accolades, past and present accomplishments, and statements that he was an “end time prophet of God.” Branham surrounded himself with people who fed his ego. Branham’s impact faded away.[4]

Jesus lived in a land where there was no welfare state, health insurance, or pension plans. It was a country occupied by an enemy invader and taxation was high. Human need was great. Jesus was held responsible for his faithfulness to love the Father and others, regardless of the response of those whom he served. Jesus sent the disciples out two by two to embrace, engage, comfort, heal, and instruct the marginalized with the good news of God’s unconditional love.

At the heart of the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ, is the belief that God is for us and not against us. One thing that undermines witnessing to God’s goodness is the inconsistency between our words and deeds. Becky Pippert had stopped at a red light. S looked to the driver beside her. The driver had her passenger side window rolled down. As it happened, Becky had her window rolled down as well. It looked as though the driver wanted to speak to her. Becky focused on her, as if she had something to say, turned to look at the light, and suddenly was hit on the side of the cheek by a wadded-up piece of paper. She quickly unwrapped the paper and found a Christian tract declaring Jesus is Lord. Becky had been hit in the face by the gospel. Becky calls that torpedo evangelism.[5]Listen carefully. The greatest reason followers of Jesus have for not sharing their faith is not a repugnance toward torpedo evangelism. No, the reason is that we often find it difficult to have anything to say.

Share the good news of the gospel. The best place to act on what you believe is up close and personal. It’s about one person who is wrestling with life listening to another person who’s wrestling with life. Jesus changes lives one at a time. Rebecca Manley Pippert in Out of the Salt Shaker & into the World writes, “If we are to be followers of Jesus, his values must permeate our values…When we live as Jesus did…seekers will be drawn to us. Evangelism will not be a dreaded task…Rather, sharing Jesus will become a true delight and evangelism will become a lifestyle.”[6] So, on the average, how many hours each month do you listen to another person’s story and share the good news of the gospel? Remember, you are not responsible for people’s response. You are, however, responsible for your own faithfulness.

[1]Taken from “Harpers Index” in HarpersJune 2018, 9.

[2]Beverly Zink-Sawyerin David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor, editors, Feasting on the Word, Year B, Volume 3 (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2009), 217.

[3]C. Peter Wagner, Humility (Bloomington, Minnesota: Chosen Books, 2002).

[4]Adapted from The Rev. Anne Horton’s sermon, “Engaging Solitude” preached on Sunday, September 28, 2008 at Eastminster Presbyterian Church in Wichita, Kansas.

[5]Ibid.

[6]Rebecca Manley Pippert, Out of the Salt Shaker & into the World (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1999), 93.