In my meditation today, I shared about a “diaper ministry” that was started in the church I attend. Admittedly it isn’t a glamorous ministry, but it is important because it fills a very real need in our community. This ministry affects people in different ways—the young families we share God’s love with have their burdens eased, and the people who participate in the ministry also experience a blessing.
Faith is a process that transforms us throughout our lives. John Wesley told us that we are “moving on to perfection.” To achieve this, we are justified by the work of Jesus on the cross. But there is another important part of faith—sanctification, the work of the Holy Spirit who gradually transforms us into the likeness of Christ.
I wonder what our lives would look like if we were transformed into the likeness of Christ. I believe we would become manifestations of God’s love in the world. Jesus was a perfect manifestation of God’s love, and we are called to express that same love, imperfect as it may be in us, to the people around us. This is not easy; it is a challenge it is to love. Love can often be resisted and misunderstood. But we have a powerful reminder of the challenge of sharing love in the church: the Cross. Before we give up on sharing God’s love because it seems too daunting, let us look around and take a small step today.
When I retired from parish ministry, I was blessed to find an active congregation with many ministries that I could easily plug myself into. There are visible ministries, like those on Sunday mornings. But there are other ministries that are more hidden from view—visiting those who are unable to leave their homes, serving meals at a local soup kitchen, supporting a homeless shelter, supporting a suicide hotline, and going on mission trips to many places, near and far. If you aren’t sure what opportunities for service are available in your church, consider chatting with your pastor to learn more. But even if your congregation doesn’t seem to be that active in service, every community has needs. You can check your area for meals on wheels programs, habitat for humanity projects, community literacy projects, hospital volunteer programs, and so many more.
In one of the congregations I pastored, we had a choir from a nearby women’s shelter sing at our Sunday morning worship service. Our organist was so moved by their music and testimony that she started volunteering at the shelter. She even got the whole congregation involved when the shelter needed new appliances in its kitchen. She became a powerful reminder that God’s love is active and alive in our world.
Every service project is important, but it doesn’t stop there. In reaching out to the people around us, we share God’s love. We can witness God’s grace touching lives and enriching them. What you may not notice is God’s love transforming you also—step by step, almost imperceptibly, each act gradually transforms us into the likeness of Christ.
To anyone considering the 2022 Spiritual Formation in Today’s World: Ask yourself if you are ready and willing to give your heart, mind, body, and soul to the experience. If you are, you will be changed in ways you may not even know you need. And it will continue to shape you into the future.”
Learn more about Spiritual Formation in Today’s World: A One-Year Online Offering from The Academy for Spiritual Formation here.