Ministering to Those Who Cannot Reciprocate
“When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. 14 And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
Luke 14: 12-14
I get frustrated with old friends that do not initiate or reciprocate. That is the notion of friendship, it seems to me. A giving and taking, a caring for one another. I think this is true of friendship. But these words of Jesus reminded me of late that friendship and ministry are not the same thing. Ministry goes beyond a reciprocating friendship. Ministry calls us to love, care for, and bring hope and healing to those that cannot reciprocate.
It is a challenge to live out such a truth. We often fall into routines and patterns where we by and large care for one another, invite those that invite us back, care for those that are committed to the church already. But how do we live out the call to love those who cannot love us back, and to give to those who cannot give back? How do we prevent ourselves from preaching and affirming truths that we do not have the scaffolding to live out?
This is one reason I am excited about the Legacy Tithe. It is a way for us to partner with important work going on out in the world, and to get our hands in a little. A way for us to invest in work that is loving those who are motivated but in desperate circumstances, who are in a place where they need to be ministered to, where they need to be assisted, where they need to be loved and cared for. And as is most often the case when we branch out to such folks, loving and helping is a bit of a risk. It is messy. But it is hopeful.
As we move through this year, it is our desire to highlight our mission work even more. We want to be in touch both with these new endeavors through the Legacy Tithe, as well as the missions we continually support through the budget and leadership of FIAT. It is important for us not just to give money but to be connected to this work, to get our hands in where we can, to get our hearts in where we can. Because there is something essential to our faith about loving those that are not in a position to love us back. There is something essential about inviting those to the banquet who cannot reciprocate. There is something oh so important about loving those that we desperately seek to help, but cannot control. And when we reach that point, we have moved beyond friendship, to costly ministry. Lord, lead us!