I celebrate a birthday this week (Editor’s note: Tim’s birthday is today, April 6). As I often do, I took an assessment of my life and ministry. Although I am generally pleased with my life, I decided I must be more focused if I am to make the difference in the world I believe God created me to make. I realized that I have a few years of active ministry left in and through the United Methodist Church (10 years before I have to retire). I believe I must be more clearly focused if I am to make that difference.
As we moved through Lent, I read again the stories of Simon Peter denying that he knew Jesus. I reflected on Judas betraying Jesus and then working to undo what he had done. I read again about Pilate washing his hands of any responsibility of Jesus and of the soldiers and the crowd taunting Jesus and crying out for his death.
I asked myself how I was responding to God’s work in my life. Was I denying it? Was I trying to work against it? Was I washing my hands of any responsibility of God’s work in my life?
Through my reading and reflection, I read the words of Jesus from Matthew’s gospel: “You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” The key agent for preserving and protecting food from decay and spoilage is salt. I believe Jesus used that idea of salt to define how his followers should interact with the world.
Gabe Lyons in his book, The Next Christians, writes,
“Salt is only useful when it’s good, active, and engaged; doing what it’s supposed to do where it’s supposed to be. Salt does not preserve anything by itself; it must attach to something in order to provide its life-sustaining and preservative value. Let on its own, even in proximity to meat, salt will do nothing to keep the meat from going bad. And meat left alone, without salt, will rot and be rendered useless. But when the two intermingle, when the salt is rubbed deep into filet mignon, it not only preserves the steak but expresses it greatest attributes in taste, quality, and favor.”
For the remainder of my ministry, I want to be salt. I want to be an agent of change actively working into the middle of a decaying culture to restore and to make new. I want to be related to people and involved in structures that are in danger of wasting away while keeping myself open to God’s redeeming presence and power.
By God’s grace, I want God to work through me to restore and renew our culture.
As I offer myself I know that I will have to struggle against the cultural tide. But I am called to restore and to renew what is falling apart. This week, I decided that I may not see the full result of my work, but I understand that I honor God by offering myself in living this way. I don’t want to deny it or work against it. I don’t want to turn away from the work God has for me to do.
So, I am committing myself to the following:
-to hold back evil in all the forms it presents itself
-to repair systems and structures, especially the church that has helped make me who I am
-to be a healing agent for people who are broken and suffering
-to work of peacemaking
-to putting things back together.
Please pray with me and for me as I enter this stage of my life and ministry. Pray that I can and will make the difference that God has created me to make. Pray that I can and will be obedient in the work of restoring and renewing the world in which we live. Pray that I will be who God intends for me to be.
Then, together, you and I will work for the kingdom of God to come on earth as it is in heaven. So let it be!