Rubber gloves

During yesterday’s service I was struck afresh by the words “May God strengthen you in all goodness.” So often these are taken to mean, may God help us avoid evil, or may we listen to our conscience. But I think that we are constantly challenged by the world we live in the step up in our goodness. Not only by not doing wrong, but by deliberately doing something that is good, that shows God’s goodness to those God loves.

You see, it’s easy to live this life with rubber gloves on. I didn’t used to use gloves for doing the dishes, or for gardening, but recently I have been trying them out, to see if it makes a difference. Well, yes, the chores are quicker, and I get no dirt under my nails, and my nail polish doesn’t chip as quickly.

But today I was pricking out tiny Kohl Rabi seedlings, and I needed the sensitivity of fingertips, so that I didn’t break the tiny roots. I worked without gloves, and yes there is now soil under my nails. But what I discovered afresh was that I love the feeling of the soil on my hands, its living potential. I love to be so connected with the plants that I can feel the roots coming out of the ground, and I can snug them into their new home like tucking in a  litlte baby!

What would it feel like to minister to our world without gloves on, I wondered? Would I get dirt under my nails, and scratches and scars? If we are going to be really sensitive to the needs of others, we need to allow ourselves to be vulnerable, to be used up almost. We need to ask God to strengthen us in all goodness, so that our own desires for self-,preservation  are not limiting our ministry.

If I am brave enough, I could tackle a problem in our street, with a family who are not doing well. I could talk to them about how they swear at the little kids, and risk getting sworn at too. I could challenge them on their drinking, and risk getting an empty bottle thrown at me. But if God is strengthening me in all goodness, and if it is God’s idea that I get to be involved in this family, God will be with me, and I can leave the rubber gloves at home, and risk breaking a fingernail!

Advertisements

Building a people of Power

Do you know this song? I’m building a people of power, I’m building a people of praise…

I’ve been thinking about what it means to build the kingdom of heaven. It’s like an underground structure – like roots of a tree, which spread unseen, taking in nourishment, to eventually support something large up top.

There’s a building project going on near where I live. The petrol station is being refurbished. Is this an unseen, underground movement? No! Even though the finished result will be unseen, with new petrol tanks in the ground, there’s a huge crane that can be seen all over our suburb.

But the kingdom of heaven is much more subtle. Every time someone discovers that God loves them, there’s another block in the kingdom. Every time someone discovers that they can help someone, there’s another nail in the walls. Every time someone speaks up against injustice, the kingdom grows!

Don’t consider that you can’t be part of a wonderful glorious building project! This one has no council consents needed, no deadline, no budget. It may not be a crystal cathedral, but the kingdom of Heaven is the Best thing to build!

The song goes on “Build your church Lord, make us strong Lord.” Don’t leave it all up to God – pick up your hammer and get building!