Several years ago (before I knew I would actually serve in law enforcement), I took a community services chaplaincy course with an emphasis on law enforcement chaplaincy. The theme for the Church of God Chaplains Commission (www.cogchaplains.com) is “Ministry Beyond the Gates.” Chaplaincy is a ministry that is anything but conventional, and reaches outside the limitations of the “four walls of the church.”
Hebrews 13:12 speaks of Jesus’ suffering “outside the gate.” Jesus’ life and death was an example of reaching out to the marginalized (people living and suffering on the margins, outside the parameters of “normal” society), less fortunate people who either cannot or will not come to him. In John 4 Jesus was compelled to go through Samaria to minister to the needs of the woman at the well. Samaria was the place where no “good” Hebrew would go, because they would be considered unclean. But, Jesus did not avoid this sinner. In fact, He went outside the gate and took upon Himself the sins of us all, so that we might be brought into the family of God through His sacrifice.
The problems of our society, our nation, and our world find sin as the least common denominator. In other words, everything boils down to the problem of sin. Every day we serve in the highways and hedges and encounter people “outside the gates” who are sin-plagued and in need of salvation. That’s our ministry…to go beyond the gates and reach those who may never come to our churches. In a sense, we are all chaplains. As I’ve said before, we are certainly all ministers.
On occasion I have re-posted blog posts from friend and chaplain, Grant Wolf. Yesterday he continued this thought of sin, salvation, and ministry in a very powerful and thought-provoking way. As I rejoice in what Christ has done in my life, I encourage you to meditate upon these thoughts as well. May our lives be redeemed so that we may remain “inside the gates,” but may our ministry continually take us “outside the gates!”
March 5 Thought for Today – “Outside the Camp”
“But the flesh of the bull and its hide and its refuse, you shall burn with fire outside the camp; it is a sin offering.” – Exodus 29:14
“You shall send them outside the camp so that they will not defile their camp where I (God) dwell in their midst.” – Numbers 5:3
“Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through his own blood, suffered outside the gate. – Hebrews 13:12
“He has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.” – Galatians 3:13
God hates sin.
From the very outset of His instructions to Moses, God made it clear there were things He considered “unclean,” and He wanted them removed from the camp. Whether it was the remains of a burnt offering, persons with leprosy or other defects, the “scapegoat” (Leviticus 16) or when Jesus bore all the sins of all mankind in His body, God cannot tolerate sin.
In 1 Corinthians 5, the Apostle Paul wrote about sexual immorality in the church (fellowship of believers). After a stinging rebuke to the Corinthian brethren for their tolerance of this sin, Paul concluded the chapter with these words: “Remove the wicked man from yourselves” (verse 13). Later, in 2 Corinthians 2:5-11, Paul felt the man had been punished sufficiently, and he told the Corinthians to “forgive and comfort him, otherwise such a one might be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow…reaffirm your love for him.”
“Outside the camp” deals with two sides of an issue:
· Living our lives in such a way that no cause is found for putting us “outside the camp” – removed from fellowship by other believers because of our flagrant disregard for the Lord’s teachings, commands and ordinances.
· As a body of believers, understanding God’s hatred for sin and taking action when necessary to remove someone from close Christian fellowship to “outside the camp.” Then understanding if and when he once again can be brought back into fellowship.
“Outside the camp” should be where no believer wants to be. Our aim should be what John the Apostle wrote in 1 John 1:3-4:
…that you too may have fellowship with us (other believers); and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.
Selah!Chaplain Grant Wolf www.ChaplainGrantWolf.com
- The Real Word…On Salvation (coveredlawenforcement.wordpress.com)