“Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali—to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah: “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, along the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles – the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death light has dawned.” From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” Matthew 4:13-17
The last of the Christmas Towns is Capernaum. Capernaum was the main center of Jesus activity during a large part of His public ministry. What I mean is this: nearby He called the fishermen and the tax-collector to follow him. Here Jesus healed the centurion’s son, the nobleman’s son, Simon Peter’s mother-in-law, and the paralytic. Amazing, I know, but that was not all. He cast out the unclean spirit, and here, probably, raised Jairus’ daughter to life. In Capernaum the little child was used to teach the disciples humility. Do you remember that story? And while in the synagogue Jesus delivered His speech on the bread of life. Wow! That is a lot of stuff.
The conclusion is that while Jesus was in Capernaum He did effective ministry. As I looked at his interactions with his disciples and others I noticed three key factors that made his ministry effective. I think that we can imitate his ministry and have effective ministries as well. These three keys will unlock effectiveness that previously seemed to run from you. Are you ready to learn this?
The first key factor is that effective ministry begins when you enter into a deeper fellowship with Christ. Christ maintained a strong relationship with his heavenly Father. Jesus called his followers to the same type of commitment. Jesus’ call to the apostles was simply “follow me.” For them it meant leaving their nets, boats and families. The simple, dramatic call of Jesus is to everyone “follow me.” Jesus invites us to follow him and we should invite others to follow him as well.
The second key factor is that effective ministry happens when you know the purpose is Christ-centered. In despised Galilee, the place where people live in darkness Jesus shined like a light in the darkness. When ministry is Christ-centered it will act like a light shining in a dark place. And as light is inclusive so is Christ-centered ministry. Light does not discriminate but shines on everyone. In Capernaum He found a population made up of all types and nationalities. He loved them all. That reminds me of the great commission is to take Christ to all nations.
The third key factor is that effective ministry happens whenever we are clear about our role in ministry. Jesus was effective because he knew that his purpose was to obey the one who had sent him. It’s the same with us. We are ambassadors for God. We have been saved from the world, sent back into the world in order to lead others out of the world.
So the three keys to effective ministry are deep fellowship, clear purpose and knowing your role. Interestingly, these principles also transfer to business and family. Why do these principles transfer so easily? Because, in order to be effective in either business or family, relationships must be strong, purpose must be clear and roles must be clearly defined. Everyone must know why they are doing what they are doing and believe that it is important and meaningful. Yet, these things are accomplished on purpose.
The move to Capernaum was on purpose. Jesus referred to Capernaum as “my town.” It was as though Jesus said “This is my city and I’ll give my best to it.” This was the case even though Jesus eventually cursed Capernaum for unbelief. Even still he gave his best. Have you ever known someone who wished they lived somewhere else; never content where they were? What about you? How are you doing in your Capernaum?
Do a personal heart-check. Has disappointment settled in? Are you living with disappointment that you live where you live, serving and doing whatever? Have you stopped giving your very best to serve others in your city, business, church and family? Why not take ownership of the relationships in the town where you live?
Merry Christmas everyone!