January 07, 2022

Getting our Hands Dirty

Luke 5:27-32

Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

—  Luke 5:31-32

An elder of the inner-city church where I served advised me that if I was serious about connecting with families in the local neighborhood, I had to get my hands dirty. In other words, I had to get involved in the messiness of people’s lives rather than doing ministry from a distance.

Jesus not only ministered to people who were outcasts of society—such as tax collectors who overcharged people and filled their own pockets—but he also called them to be his followers and to teach others about him. And when people like Levi invited Jesus to cele­brate their radical life-change, he joined with them and their friends, no matter how motley they might have seemed to “respectable” people. The outcasts were like sheep without a shepherd, and Jesus had come to give them—and all of us—full life.

Sometimes we who are saved may think we are too sanitary to share the good news with people who are lost in sin. Jesus calls us to search them out and to love and guide them to spiritual health, as he did.

It’s easy to judge others who sin differently than we do. But what if we pray for people whose sin disgusts us? What if we show kindness to people who suffer from addictions, who are rebellious, or whose political views differ from ours? Then we’ll be getting our spiritual hands dirty.

Thank you, Jesus, for cleansing the filth of my soul. Help me to show others the grace and love you have shown to me. Amen. (BMB)

About the author — Al Mulder and Bonny Mulder-Behnia

Al Mulder served as a church pastor in Kansas, Utah, and New Mexico and in ministry roles with denominational missions in North America. He is a member of Madison Square Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Al and Joanna Meyer, both widowed, married in 2020. Together they have eight children, 19 grandchildren, and 22 great-grandchildren.

Bonny Mulder-Behnia began work in ministry after a career in journalism. While serving on staff at Madison Square Church, Grand Rapids, and later at Rosewood Church in Bellflower, Calif., she completed seminary training and is now a copastor at Rosewood Church. Bonny is married to Jahangir Behnia and has two children and one grandchild.

As father and daughter, Al and Bonny have a shared passion for multicultural ministry. Their initials (AM and BMB) indicate which meditations they have written for the month of January.

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