A Trinitarian perspective on Christian ministry
In Karl Barth's Theology of Relations, Dr. Gary Deddo notes that human being is fundamentally "being-in-relationship" - both "with God" and "for God." Based on this insight, Gary suggests a "six-fold grammar of family relations." In a previous post I applied this grammar to Christian counseling. Here I apply it to Christian ministry in general - our Spirit-led participation in Jesus' incarnational, "place-sharing" ministry with all humanity.
- The God whom we worship in Jesus Christ is the Triune God who exists in loving covenantal communion and who has created, reconciled and redeemed all humanity for participation in that very communion of Father and Son in the Holy Spirit. Human relationships are the context in which this communion may be communicated and reflected.
- As human beings, we have our personhood only as a gift of being in covenantal communion with God, which calls for our personal participation. This life of fellowship is to be manifested in lives of worship as the Church of Jesus Christ. It is in this context that each one of us, no matter what our life experience, hears and is reminded of our true identity as children of God and finds the norm for right (righteous/healthy) human relationships. Gary’s point here helps us understand the value of church-based ministry where we bring the healing fellowship of the body of Christ to bear on people's struggles.
- The church is a covenant community and as such can be understood as the household of God with God as our Father and Jesus as our Brother. It is the original ‘Family’ by which all other families are to order themselves in correspondence and witness to it. This is the true source for the renewal and healing of broken relationships—within both biological families, the family of the church and the family of humankind at large.
- We are called to be “our brother’s keeper”—to relate, in love, with all people. Being able to do so is a divine gift of personal and covenantal participation in God’s relationship with all people in Christ. Such participation constitutes a witness to, a correspondence to, an image of, God’s creation of us in promise with a view to our fulfillment. God does this by bringing us up by the Spirit to maturity according to the image of Jesus Christ and through his incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, intercession and coming again.
- Healthy human relationships (including relationships with oneself), are ones ordered after the pattern of being of members of God’s own household, the Body of Christ, where its members acknowledge one Father and one Brother over them all. They see themselves as elder and younger brothers and sisters and all being the children of God, who belong together in a maturing communion with God by the Spirit, thereby becoming conformed to Jesus Christ.
- These individuals, as humans in relationship, are then equipped and sent out to serve and equip others, thus extending this fellowship to others that they too might be included in the one family of God by that same Spirit. This ministry to other of God’s children is a high calling--an important “sending” of the Spirit.