All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19
I made a pleasant mistake of picking up a copy of the “Imitation of Christ” in the beginning of this year. I read it before but this time I found it to be annoying and yet, I could not stop reading it. I found myself disagreeing with it while at the same time, I could not disregard what it says, mainly because it exposes my own struggles with pride and insecurity. It was as if it was written for me. Then, I realized that I was again being an egocentric person. There was no winning with this book. It was written for all peoples; everyone is flawed with a tendency to confuse the message of the gospel with our own personal ideas. I began the year thinking that I should have goals for our ministry so that I can show myself that I have achieved something. However, this is not my ministry. It belongs to God. We either serve His purpose and set aside our personal desires or we aren’t part of it at all. There is no middle ground, only God’s goal established in His gospel matters.
God does not have resolutions like us. He just has one simple eternal plan for the world laid out in the gospels. The gospels testify about the person of Jesus. In all the four gospels, we know that Jesus is notorious for not giving a straight-forward answer. If Jesus were to be present in the flesh in our midst and we asked him what is the essence of the gospel, I am sure that Jesus would answer with a question. He gives nothing away on a platter. He wants us to have the joy of discovering the answer. Thankfully, we have St Paul who attempts some answers. He sought to live the gospel in its plenitude. His complex and rich summary of the gospel was that it was a message of reconciliation. My own plans and goals seem pitiful compared to this lofty aim and purpose. God wants to reconcile the world. With division and strife surrounding us, it is a powerful notion. Our situation is not something new. It has always been like this ever since Adam and Eve had their first children. This is why the ministry of reconciliation is such a controversial and powerful message in every age.
Our responsibility as Christians is to stand in the place where God has called us to be His witness and ask what does it mean to part of this ministry of reconciliation. In our streets, the Holy Spirit is opening our hearts to understand that it means celebrating the lives of the children and teens who have been forgotten and despised by many. St Paul, who was a strict Jewish leader who once disapproved violently any idea of reconciling with the Gentiles, became the champion and model of reconciliation with the very people he despised. They became part of his identity and he loved them and celebrated their lives.
Reconciliation goes beyond saying affirmative statements about an individual. We recognize that our lives have become richer through our relationship with such and such person. St Paul said that everything he lost for the sake of the gospel he considered as dung in comparison to what he had gained. These were not mere words; he laid down his life for these people. He discovered something greater and more precious than his previous status could ever offer. He found God’s beauty and love in the people he once despised or disregarded. He had genuine reasons to celebrate the lives of those whom he served.
We are in a moment in our ministry here where we can say we want to celebrate the lives of the children and teens. Part of celebrating is sharing. There can never be a true rejoicing in isolation. The deep joy of being part of something wonderful and precious is being able to share it with your friends and family and even total strangers. However, evangelical celebration of lives must be done in Truth. If not, it would be reduced to something sentimental and there is no future in this. We can only perceive the true value and beauty of our children and teens through the Holy Spirit. We can only be sensitized to the presence of the Holy Spirit through faith. One of the keys to unleash our faith is through prayer. Before we can truly celebrate, we need to pray; not for God to change things but for Him to change the way we see and understand people. I noticed that whenever I pray, I see more clearly how special and precious these children are even when they are difficult.
I want to begin this year praying that God will reveal to us how to celebrate the lives of the people who He has put into our lives and neighborhood. It doesn’t matter how the world considers these people but God has given them to us so that our lives would be richer. I want to share this wealth with you. I invite you to pray with me as you read about these treasures that we share with you. I am sure that prayer will unleash your faith to celebrate the lives of these little ones together with us in a genuine way.