This is another devo published through The Christian Pulse. Thanks to Suzy and her team at The Christian Pulse for giving me the opportunity to write for them each month!
Posted: 13 Jun 2013 02:00 AM PDT
By Mollie Bond –
Sitting on the sidelines is where the ministry took place.
My friend, Leanna, went on a mission trip to Africa as part of the basketball team from a Christian college. They rode in a limo. They played basketball. They were on the national news where they visited. No street preaching, no dramas, no spontaneous worship. They played basketball. “Where’s the suffering for the gospel?” she wondered, “Where is the ministry?”
Leanna and her team visited a closed Muslim country, so some restrictions caused them to focus on what they came to do: play basketball. In the last game the refs were slightly against the Americans. Bad calls gave way to bad attitudes. Leanna was done trying to do ministry and played hard enough that she ended up on the sidelines. While sitting and internally grumbling, she listened to some of her teammates. They were upset, too. Their emotions didn’t come from hatred, but from wanting to play a fair game. The other team noticed.
A player from the other team, who happened to be sitting closest to an American named Tasha, said, “Why aren’t you guys more upset? Why are you not cursing? Why are you acting so nice?” Tasha explained that Jesus affected her team so much that they wanted to be gracious to everyone they met. Jesus had transformed they way they function, even in a game of basketball.
Leanna overheard this, and realized mission trips aren’t about accomplishing a mission. It’s not about saving so many people, or “doing” ministry. It’s about “being” ministry. She said “It’s important to keep in mind my identity in Christ because others are watching when you least expect it.” Ministry isn’t an action; it’s a state of being. Sitting on the sidelines is just as much a ministry as being in the game.
In Galatians 5:22, we’re given the fruits of the Spirit. Some people try to tackle these fruits, doing the work they think will bring ministry. Yet fruits don’t come from force. Hiding your life in Christ will bring fruit. Just like Leanna, who learned that sitting on the sidelines was a ministry to others, we need to sometimes take ourselves out of the game and let the fruit grow naturally.
PRAYER: Dear God, I want to produce fruit. I know that won’t come from me working harder, but from being with you so that it is a natural state of being. Please help me to see my ministry in my daily life.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness” (Galatians 5:22 NIV).