Interview Dr. Miranda : What are the 3 top prayer concerns for Congregation Lion of Judah?
One of the most important things for our church in terms of, if we are asked what should we pray for our church, is our level of spiritual closeness to the Lord and to the word of God. My deep desire before the Lord is that we be kept in close affinity with the values of the Kingdom of God, with the teachings of the word of God. That this church always from its pulpit has been teaching a doctrine, that is biblical, that is wholesome as the word defines wholesome teaching and wholesome doctrine, that our church be kept with its priorities correct.
The Bible says that if we seek first the Kingdom of God all the other things shall be added on to us. It is possible even for the church to lose an understanding of what that means. We can become so involved in ministry, and in programs and in urban missions and in doing things, and in all the requirements of the ministry that we forget that really the most important thing is to be close to Jesus Christ, to be in affinity with the word of God, to have a level spirituality that is pleasing to God.
The words of Jesus to Martha come to my mind where Jesus tells Martha: “you know, Martha, you are anxious and concerned about a whole lot of different things, but your sister Mary, in choosing to remain close to me and to be close to my presence and to be drinking from my words, she has chosen the better part, and therefore we shall not take that away from her.” And here was Martha, she was in the middle of ministry, she was interested in serving Christ but she was anxious about it, she was not resting on the Lord and she was missing the opportunity to be close to the Master and therefore she was missing it in a sense, and it is possible for churches and it has happened over the centuries, for churches to be very much involved in ministry but not necessarily be pleasing to the heart of Christ, who simply wants communion with his people. So, for me the most important thing is that our church, and that’s what we should pray for, predominantly that our church remains with the spiritual values as centered as possible in the word of God, in the fullness of the holy spirit, in the passion, enthusiastic, committed to the Kingdom of God and always innocently in a sense approaching as if for the first time, the things of the spirit.
I pray that God would also make us a church that is a model in the city. As a matter of fact, one of the governing values of our congregation is that we will be allowed to represent the best interest of the Kingdom of God, that we might be a church that is a model to all the churches. It’s important to clarify right from the start that in wanting to do so we don’t approach it from a perspective of pride.
It’s not lifting the name of the congregation Lion of Juda before anyone. We are so aware of the fact that only by the sheer grace of God we are able to do the minimum amount of good that we do here in the city, we are continually in need of the grace just like any other church. Our church is as imperfect and as needy of God’s patience and tolerance as any other congregation and we’d like to confess that because I think that pride is one of the biggest dangers of any ministry, of any congregation, when we start being so aware of our name and of our reputation that we start putting that above the name of Jesus Christ, it’s huge danger in that.
So we have to be aware of that, we have to be kept humble, we have to be kept very aware of our frailty before God, but at the same time I think God is looking for ministries and churches that can exemplify the richness of the Kingdom, that can exhibit in a sense, the values of the Kingdom of God and the possibilities that there are out there for the churches and for the ministries that want to serve God in the city. These churches need models.
There are a lot of ministries in the Hispanic community that are needing to be in touch with churches, they are learning as they go, we are all learning as we go, as a matter of fact. Some are more advanced than others in the process of ministry and it is so much easier if you have somebody ‘discipling’ you and other ministers perhaps are more experienced, and you can look at how the church is run and what the possibilities are in educational ministries, for example, in the area of administration, in the area of the community involvement, leadership development, the conduct of a worship service, educational ministries and so on and so forth. I think it shortens the road, the journey that one must follow as a ministry, if we are able to come in touch with places that are practicing, that have good pastoral practices.
It’s much like a Teaching Hospital in a city, that is a place that represents a good medical practice and that is therefore adequate for the training of other doctors, because it will infuse in them a vision of what it is to do good medical practice. So there need to be these churches and I will add that is not only concerning practice but also the very being of the church, that those churches represent the qualities of the Kingdom of God in terms of humility, in terms of the fruit of the spirit, in terms of harmony among the members, in terms of diversity of composition, concerned for others honesty, holiness, all these different gifts and qualities that should be distinctive of the Christian church. So therefore I ask the Lord that our church would be a source of blessing, of example and of course that will do it, that will keep us on it as well ‘cause we realize that it’s a huge responsibility for us as eyes are set upon us as a model, that we be worthy of that respect and that attention.
The third thing that I think is so important for us to pray for as a church, is that our church be able to be a resource to the larger community, not just for the people who come to our church every Sunday or during the week, but also just to the greater community. It gives a great joy, for example, when I’m able to hear from a Boston city counselor that they have heard of our church and they appreciate the involvement that our church has in the community with the social agencies and with the various resources, social resources in the community, because I feel that enhances the image of the Kingdom of God.
Many times a secular world sees the church as only interested in grabbing people and getting them into the church and getting their money. It does a huge amount to break that stereotype when the secular world sees churches involved in the daily dramas and challenges of the community. It is so crucial that the church takes part in the daily life of the people that we serve, that we be a visible presence in the community. Jesus said that you do not take a light and put it under a table, rather you put it in a high place where it can be seen and where it can shed benefits and influence on the environment. And I believe that the same way is with the church.
A church should be placed as high and as visible as possible that it can shine its good influence on the general community, that people from afar can see it in the darkness and say “Here’s a source of light where I want to go there, I want to be there”, and sometimes the contact that the church may have with the community may be very minimum, it may simply be a name that they hear about or a service that is being offered, but people put that into their folder, their mental folder, then one day when they have crisis or need they will know where to go to. Our product has to be kept out in the market, sort of speak.
We have to dedicate time for the publicity, and the best way to do that publicity is by showing a church that is involved in the city, that is partnering with the secular agencies and resources that the city has to offer and showing that we have good will, that we are unconditionally loving and not just for people who come into our church.
One last detail concerning that: sometimes the church is threatened with being co-opted into the world, with losing its distinctive values, biblical values, because often people in the outside community, they want the help of the church, they want the service of the church, but they also place conditions on the church. Very subtly the world will try to turn the church for its values, for its way of seeing the world, towards its moral preferences and many ministers in our good desire to be of help, we tend to go ahead and give away the house, sort of speak, and slowly our ‘distinctives’ start being eroded, and so it’s very important that we don’t fall into that trap. There are some tensions involved and associated with social ministry but we believe that God is more than sufficient to give us the wisdom that we need to navigate those stormy waters.
Just to summarize, I pray and I ask that our church also pray: number one that we be kept always close to the values of the word of God, that our church be kept spiritually healthy and wholesome, that we be kept in close affinity with the values of the Kingdom of God, number two that through that affinity and through that closeness to the spirit, we be able to be a model and an example to other churches, to other ministries, to other pastors, that we be a resource, that as people see our life and the daily use of God’s energy in the life of our congregation, that they learn and that they receive examples of good models from ministry, and number three, that our church becomes so involved in the community that we be seen by the secular world as a ally, as a resource, as an associate in trying to make a community a healthy place to be.