Thursday, October 15, 2015

Relevant Words

Ever cringe at religious words?    We were visiting somewhere, and this church fellow wanting perhaps to instruct us more perfectly in the way said, "let me minister to you...."  Cringe!

Today, 'ministry' and 'minister' are usually religious things.  In English language bibles, the Greek words (diakonia, diakonos, etc) are sometimes translated as 'minister' and 'ministry'.  Those Greek words appear all through the New Testament, but they are not limited to the pulpit; the words are used to describe a variety of activities.  In each occurrence, the context is one of serving others, and there's a beautiful undertone of having a good heart about it.

While the original word use does include working in the church, it more broadly describes serving the needs of others by pretty much everyone.  And everyone serves (they minister, to use the old word).  Feeding the hungry, taking up collections for the poor, the labors of leadership and of teaching, of helping and hospitality, and caring practically for others near and far.  In such use, 'minister' is not a position, it's a sacrifice.

The words 'minister' and 'ministry' may not have real clarity in young folks' minds.  Such words are perhaps more of a separator, a boundary drawn between inside and outside.  Would our words be clearer if instead we talked about 'lending a hand', 'coming alongside for the duration', 'I got your back', or 'can I help'?

(Offering religious words to an inquirer is like offering beef to a vegan.  I suspect that little could be less appealing than sounding like today's media-portrayed religionists.  When we speak, we need to understand how it will be heard.)

Today, ministry is for ministers, at least the way the word is used.  Perhaps the word has evolved in common vernacular to the near-opposite of its earlier use.  True?  Do your own study, if you like, and consider what it might mean.  :)  It looks to me like everyone is supposed to be involved.

(For the record, my Kenyan friend says they have the same problem in Swahili.)

Ephesians 4:12 to equip his people for works of (ministry) service