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“Can I use the computer for a minute, please?”
My younger sister determinedly entered the family office, posing her innocent, but rather inconvenient, question. I immediately rolled my eyes, uttering an annoyed sigh and said, “Really? You can’t wait for five minutes?”
After all, I was in the middle of teaching myself how to implement a new design technique for my blog. You know, one of those very involved processes that takes loads of concentration, creativity and time to carry unto completion.
Please note the sarcasm.
Even still, the process was intricately involved, and her interruption was an unwelcomed one at best. After another roll of my eyes, I caved to her needs, stood up abruptly from my chair and proceeded to leave the room, while she finished what she just had to start.
Needless to say, I am not always the most loving sister in the world.
The thoughts and attitudes of my heart are very accurately judged when I am in close proximity to those people whom I know the best. And these people just happen to be at home. How I interact with them translates into a very significant form of ministry, the love of Christ made manifest in my most daily of relationships. I would argue, in fact, that ministry and service are most aptly challenged by how we love the people we are surrounded by on a daily basis. To put it simply: ministry meets its ultimate match at home.
Three questions beg to be asked about at-home ministry, all of which Scripture delights to answer for us. To find our answers, let us delve into 1 John 4:
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God…10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us…
20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
Why At-Home Ministry Is Important
The ultimate test of ministry, demonstrating Christ’s love at home, finds its purpose in the glory of God. First, our love for the people in closest proximity to us reveals both an inward and outward manifestation of our relationship with Jesus Christ: “Whoever loves has been born of God and knows God” (v.7). The more time we spend at the Savior’s feet, the closer we grow to Him and the more like Him we become. Christlikeness will show itself in the way we treat those closest to us. And when we love like Christ, God is glorified.
Second, the way we love others is a testimony to the outside world. Whether unbelievers dwell within our homes or they are looking in from the outside, our love—or lack thereof—will either validate or dismantle our testimony for Christ. Verse 12 reminds us that the unseen God’s love abides in His disciples, that we are His ambassadors to a lost world. How do you utilize at-home ministry when the lost, outside world is watching? Better yet, how do you love when that very world is within your four walls?
How At-Home Ministry Is Made Possible
We purpose to glorify God and reflect Christ when we love others, especially those people who are in closest proximity to us. But how is this made possible? There must be a motivator, an initiating factor propelling our love into action. The above verses remind us that love, ministry and service are not possible apart from the Gospel: “This is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins” (v.10).
The fact that genuine love is not possible apart from the Gospel exposes the world’s vain attempts at good deeds and empty moralism. Without a cause, without a motivation, loving gestures and acts of service fall desperately short. The Gospel reminds us it was God who first loved us, deeply enough that He sent His perfect Son to absorb all of our sins. In turn, we gain the righteousness of Christ. Now that is genuine love and ministry propelled into action.
Loving Those Closest To You
The practical question then is, “What does at-home ministry look like?” Applying verse 21, “whoever loves God must also love his brother,” can be worked out in various capacities. Three helpful ways include acts of service, attitudes and words.
Be observant; take notice of a chore that a family member, spouse or roommate dislikes and do it for them. Ask yourself, “How can I serve this person today?” Consider your attitude during conversations or when something is being asked of you. Align it to the attitude of Christ, who was humble and willing to serve. Edify a brother or sister with words by relaying genuine encouragement or thanks: “It means a lot that you took out the trash—thank you!” Sometimes, merely sitting next to a person is enough to say, “I love you and care about you.”
In the words of Nancy Leigh DeMoss, “Having a servant’s heart is more than doing a few good things for people…It’s a heart attitude of giving ourselves to God by giving ourselves to others” (Service and the Kingdom of God, 2013). May we give ourselves to at-home ministry in love, all because God first loved us!
Kristen Leigh Evensen is a writer, blogger and singer/songwriter. She writes on faith and identity at The Identity Project and keeps a column at WHOLE Magazine. Her desire is to see women transformed by the Gospel! Follow her on Twitter @kristenlevensen and on Facebook.