I was really excited when I encountered Pastor Peter and the little gathering of the church on the streets of our community. I wanted to be part of something like that. I could see good things happening, people being “changed.” I could see Jesus’ teachings being lived out. I suppose I thought that it was all about what Peter, and the others, were “doing.” I wanted to “do it” with them. And yes, I have “helped out” and all. But I found myself often feeling discouraged because I was not comfortable trying to do the things Pastor Peter does, the way he does them. Others I know have felt the same way; and yes, they – and I too – have sometimes tried to change things to “our way” of doing. But Peter keeps repeating, “I’m glad to have you here with us. We can do this together. But you have to be who God wants you to be. And you have to let me be who God wants me to be.”
I am not Pastor Peter. I am not a big tatooed guy who used to deal drugs and be a bouncer at bars and drive a Harley. I’m not trained in nursing like he is. I’m not comfortable wandering back alleys by myself. He keeps telling those who want to help, that they need to be who God made them to be. And that if they want to be part of the “Another Chance Street Ministry” it must be because that is where God plants them, and it’s only really possible with Jesus living in and through them, who and as they are.
And that’s going to look different with every one of us, but if we are allowing Jesus to be who He is, the head of His body, and accept ourselves as who He has made us, then all our differences are going to come together. We don’t need to compete, nor do we need to try and fit in and do what others are doing or what others want us to do. And the “street ministry” isn’t any better or more useful or more “living out the teachings of Jesus” than what others in the whole group of believers that make up “the church at Penticton” are doing. We are all needed. We all need to let Jesus live out his life in each of us. He does the “coordinating.” He IS the coordination, the center, the purpose, the way, the Life.
Slowly I am learning to stop trying. Slowly I am getting past “knowing about Jesus” and “doing things for Him.” And instead, I am coming to “know Jesus” in relationship with Him and His body, His church; and to simply be who I am, the me He intended from the start, with Him living His life in and through me, through us.
(This is part of a larger post I wrote at My Church Journey, looking into the question, “So what does it look like when Jesus’ teachings in Matthew 5-7 are lived out in His people?” You can see the rest of the post here.)