I had just purchased two candles at a shop in downtown Seattle at the request of my wonderful wife. As I stepped out the door, discovering the onset of Seattle’s favorite weather and me without my raincoat, I heard the Holy Spirit speak to me.
I’m often asked about how the Lord talks with me, to which I answer is usually through imagery or a sort of knowing. Over the years I’ve found that how I hear Him changes depending on my circumstances. While leading a deliverance session, for example, I function most out of the knowing; when another is leading and I’m participating, He often speaks to me via imagery.
Tonight, walking through the rain in one of the areas where the poorest and most oppressed of Seattle gather, I heard Him speaking clearly outside of the means I’m most used to. In the same place and way that one hears their inner-voice, that inaudible yet tonal voice of Holy Spirit said, “If someone is in Christ, they are in ministry.” With those spoken words came hundreds of others unspoken. A flood of emotion, thoughts, and knowledge came. Revelation; the Holy Spirit’s version of data transfer.
I’ve never been one particularly fond of root word studies, as most often they result in a very stretched interpretations of scripture. Ironically, that’s exactly where I’m about to take you. Take a look at the words diakonos (Strong’s G1249), diakonia (Strong’s G1248), and diakoneō (Strong’s G1247). If you read over the outlines, definitions, and usages of each of the words in scripture you’ll find an interesting mix-match between them being translated as variations of “minister”/”ministering” and “servant”/”serving”. Strong’s even goes to the extent of defining diakonos (Strong’s G1249) as “an attendant, a waiter (at a table or in other menial duties); a Christian teacher and pastor.” Gasp! How dare they! How we’ve mixed that up, well, that’s another topic for another day…
Did you know that when we diakoneō (minister/take care of) the hungry, thirsty, stranger, naked, sick, or prisoner that we’re diakoneō’ing (ministering to / taking care of) Jesus? Well, if not, it’s in the Bible. Check out Matthew 25:34-46. I’d warn you that this is a lot of text, but it’s the Bible, so you’re obligated to like it (new reader disclaimer: this is my humor.)
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing?39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters,[c] you were doing it to me!’
41 “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons.[d] 42 For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
44 “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’
45 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’
46 “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”” Matthew 25:34-46 NLT
If we’re in Christ, we can not separate ourselves from the ministry of the Gospel of Christ. I think it’s easy to read that and get caught up in a false religion inspired, performance mentality; don’t. What I mean here is that being in Christ automatically entails the putting on of the identity of Christ. It’s as if we died, and Christ now lives in us (that’s probably in the bible, too). When this happens, we can’t help but desire to serve/minister like the one who came to serve/minister and die for us did.
Taking a look at a less “scary” or “condemning” piece of scripture, (that Jesus guy, so controversial!) the often-quoted-by-charismatics, Ephesians 4:11-12:
“Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.” Ephesians 4:11-12, NLT
The fact that those five-fold are usually awesome people is no surprise, that they are gifts that Christ gave to the church, maybe a little more of a surprise. But what about the reason behind the gift? That’s not something usually focused on in a sermon. “Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work.” The NASB version says this as “the equipping of the saints for the work of service.” Who are the saints? Well, that’s you, buddy. “His work”, guess what? Well, that’s another appearance of our friend diakonia (Strong’s G1248). There’s no separating it. As a member of the body of Christ, we are called, even expected, to serve, or minister to, both God and man.
You know, what’s really interesting to me about this is how it pairs up with the commands Jesus gave us. We were told the greatest command is to love God, the second is to love others like we love ourselves. Then he tells us in a variety of ways, “Go! Do all that good stuff!” (paraphrasing mine). By serving, ministering to, caring for, loving on others, however you want to say it, we accomplish both of these commands at the same time. The saying goes “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” but in the Kingdom of God, there’s always a flock in the hand.
Thanks for reading, there’s more to come! Love you all!