Many years ago I had the opportunity to serve our city on the Building Standards Board. Our job was to hear testimony about buildings that did not meet city code and find a way to deal with them. Often, it was the only way to get residents to fix up eyesores. The part I liked most about it was when someone couldn’t afford to fix their house and we could direct them to a way to get help. When people realized that there was a way to fix up their home and make it habitable, you could see the hope come back into their eyes. One home I remember well was where a builder had started a luxury type home. He got the shell done and some of the interior. Then, he stopped…for years. The home was in terrible shape and was falling apart. The only thing that could be done was to demolish that home because the builder never completed his job.
We have a job to do as well. We have been entrusted by God to be ministers of reconciliation. As such, we are called to work with people and to show them the joy of life with Christ. We are to encourage them as we remind them of God’s love, mercy, and grace. It also means that we are not to give up on anyone because they are beyond hope. God doesn’t see anyone as beyond hope and in our calling, we are to continue to minister lest, like this builder, we leave someone with an incomplete picture of God’s love. Paul, writing from prison, reminded the Colossians of how important it is to complete our work by singling out one specific person. “Tell Archippus: ‘See to it that you complete the ministry you have received in the Lord.’” (Colossians 4:17)
Complete the ministry. I am reminded of the scene in the movie about D-Day called “The Longest Day.” One commander has the responsibility to take a bridge and hold it until relieved. After he took the bridge, the enormity of the task hit home, and you could hear him say, “Hold until relieved. Hold until relieved.” We are called to complete the ministry God has given us. Ministry is not a timed test that you work on for three or four hours and then whatever you’ve done is what you have. Ministry is a lifelong commitment. When we begin the ministry process we should be saying to ourselves, “Minister until complete. Minister until complete.”
Some of the people who inspire me more than anyone else are those people who are retired and in failing health, yet still minister around the church, the community, and in some cases the world. They may have been retired from their job, but they have never retired from their call as ministers of reconciliation: ministers of the grace of God. They minister until their health fails them, and then they continue supporting others who minister financially and through prayer. They have, in the words of Steven Curtis Chapman, abandoned it all for the sake of the call. As I enter into my retirement years, I hope and pray that I will have the faithfulness and dedication that these saints have had in following the call of God no matter what the circumstances may be. May God give each of us the grace we need to be the ministers of His grace to a world in need of His love.
Lord God, help me as I seek to minister. Guide me to those to whom I should minister. Give me the strength to complete the ministry that You have given me to do. Let me persevere in the work ahead that others may know of Your mercy and grace.