I wasn't sure what to do with such an introduction, so I shook his hand and laughed. The connection between my brother and me unmistakable — we both were blessed with the Ware vanishing hairline!
All of us have genetic markers — or alleles — that connect us to those with whom we share a biological relationship. But if someone were to do spiritual DNA testing, would they be able to connect us back to Jesus? Are there spiritual alleles that show without question that we do ministry like Jesus did? As we seek to hear Jesus' "Call to Kingdom" (C2K), we must ask ourselves these crucial questions as we make our decisions, set our priorities, and live out our mission.
So let's do a little DNA testing by first identifying the core of Jesus' earthly ministry. Matthew summarizes the heart of Jesus' public ministry with these words:
Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people (Matthew 4:23 TNIV).
Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness (Matthew 9:35).
Some want to pit evangelism against service or set proclamation against compassion. With Jesus, these were inseparable. In the parable of the sheep and the goats, as our Lord began to prepare his closest followers for the awful future that awaited him in Jerusalem (Matthew 16:21), Jesus told his closest followers that their acts of compassion were a "heaven and hell issue" (Matthew 25:31-46). As he prepared them for their future mission after his ascension back to the Father, he emphasized the importance of going and making disciples by teaching them to obey all his commandments (Matthew 28:18-20). They were to do ministry combining both evangelism and service. They were to proclaim the good news of the kingdom calling people to repent, and they were to demonstrate the power of that kingdom through acts of compassion.
Evangelism and service, proclamation and compassion, are inseparable in Jesus' kingdom style of ministry. They must be inseparable for any of us who claim to be about the mission of Jesus in our world. So when we look at the DNA of our group — whether family, small group, fellowship circle, friendship group, house church, or congregation — do we see both of these dimensions of heaven's grace?
John the beloved disciple put it succinctly: "Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did" (1 John 2:6). If we are truly related to Jesus, proclamation and compassion will both show up in our ministry!
One my favorite events from Jesus' ministry that powerfully captures both elements of his kingdom ministry is this one:
Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, "Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven."
At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, "This fellow is blaspheming!"
Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, "Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins." So he said to the paralyzed man, "Get up, take your mat and go home." Then the man got up and went home. When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to human beings (Matthew 9:1-8).
What makes it easy for us to separate evangelism from service and proclamation from compassion?
- How are evangelism and proclamation diminished when not accompanied by service and compassion?
- How are service and compassion diminished when not accompanied by evangelism and proclamation?
- Which of the two are you most comfortable doing?
- How can you make sure the other emphasis is included in your kingdom ministry?
Can you think of other events in Jesus' life where he demonstrated both evangelism and service, proclamation and compassion?