Hanging on the wall in my office is a simple black frame containing a very common collection of papers. Inside this frame rest a personal info card from our church membership class and a single page of sermon notes . . . both of which originated from a man I hardly knew. If you were to walk into my office, you probably would walk right past this framed “art,” hardly even acknowledging that it is there. But I know its there, and it is special to me.
The message notes and “Starting Point” card were filled out by James Whyatt just a few weeks before he passed away. Since I help lead our Starting Point class and since the message notes were from a sermon I had preached at Wildwood, these pieces of paper are a great reminder to me of the importance of what I do. At any time, God could call any of us “home” and these pieces of paper are reminders for me to always give people a chance to trust in Christ in all my ministry settings. You see, Jim trusted Christ sometime around when these papers were filled out.
If you were just to see the frame on my wall, you would not know the story . . . only when I tell you the background can you fully appreciate its significance.
The Gospel of Mark begins with Jesus’s public ministry. While Matthew and Luke begin their Gospels with Wise Men and Mangers, Genealogies and Angels, Mark begins His Gospel about 30 years after Jesus’s birth when He began His three year trek to the cross. Along the way Jesus teaches us so much about who God is, who we are, and how we can have a relationship with God. Along the way, Jesus also teaches His disciples (and us by proxy) what ministry looks like.
In Mark 1-2, Jesus lets us see that ministry is not just about us showing certain things, we need to tell also. In these verses Jesus casts out demons (1:21-28), heals the sick (1:29-39), cleanses a leper (1:40-45), and heals a paralytic (2:1-12). These are amazing acts of love, compassion, and kindness. They demonstrate Jesus great power, and authenticate His love for people. However, during these same two chapters, Jesus is not JUST showing His love, He is also telling the Gospel. In Mark 1:14-15, 21, 38-39, and 2:2 Jesus is said to be “preaching the Gospel.” More than just showing, He was telling also.
This is significant. Saint Francis of Assisi has famously said, “Preach Christ always and when necessary use words.” While I appreciate the sentiment behind his statement, I think Saint Francis missed something here . . . by the example of Jesus, it is always necessary to use words. Without words to articulate our intentions, people can misconstrue or dismiss our actions.
As believers in Christ who desire to impact the world around us for Him, we must authenticate our love for others by demonstrating compassion — feeding the hungry, comforting the broken, and caring for the orphan and widow. However, as we do this, we must also be telling others WHY we are doing it . . . because we serve a God who cares, and because we know the One (Jesus) who can bring restoration to our souls and forgiveness to our sins.
Ministry is about show AND tell. At least that was Jesus ministry in Mark 1-2 as best I can see.