The idea of “integrity” is something that is complete. It is whole, without missing parts, full, perfect, with appropriate weight and measure. When referring to a person, it’s about the pure, proven, without cracks.
When we speak of mission, we are sharing in the mission of our missionary God; we’re not working on a private project. We are fulfilling the missio Dei. Our mission is to share his mission.
“Partnership” is about koinonia (Philippians 1:5), fellowship, solidarity, contribution, reciprocity, equity, something that is shared—either a purpose or an experience, suffering, persecution, weakness and strength, realities and common privileges, sharing time, worship, wealth, or money. Everything we have must be shared.
Partnership is the thread that weaves everything together. The first thing shared in the context of the church is faith. Koinonia of faith results in koinonia in actions. Sharing faith comes first and defines practical cooperation, but such faith must lead to practical engagement with tangible consequences.
As the Body of Christ, we have a common future and identity. This involves welcoming others, forgiving one another, humbling ourselves, becoming less—not claiming superiority over another. Our identity and future show we have the same feelings and are unified in following the Father's plans. It includes understanding our different cultures and helping each other—becoming open to others and doing what Jesus would have done.
The Blind Man, Bartimaeus
The story of the blind man, Bartimaeus, teaches us many lessons about evangelization, fellowship, integrity, and solidarity. Jesus asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10:46-52).
Many passages in Mark highlight the fact that the disciples did not understand this. Their minds were numb—they lacked clarity and a complete vision. The key is the ability to see. We often find ourselves struggling with the same thing as disciples. We do not see with clarity, and we do not understand. We need to achieve a clearer vision of mission, evangelization, and fellowship (partnership).
We may find ourselves in the middle of a process, like the blind man at Bethsaida (Mark 8:22-26). But in this process there is hope (the blind man of Bethsaida and blind Bartimaeus were eventually able to see). The disciples saw as well. We, too, can achieve a clearer vision of the mission we have now. But there is a price to pay: following Jesus and the process of receiving sight go hand in hand.
Jesus showed he valued humanity by being available. The blind man's answer, “I want to see,” was his response, and he was healed. It was a miracle of Jesus; his faith healed him. He decided to follow Jesus and there was transformation.
In his Gospel, Mark presented a very sharp contrast between the aspirations of the disciples and those of the blind man. While the disciples asked for status and privilege, the blind man answered, “Rabbi, I want to see.”
Mark attributed value to the main character of the text by stating his name. He was not a nameless beggar. This was very significant. We must learn the way Jesus responded to each person's need. Bartimaeus was an outcast. He was considered a sinner, excluded from the covenant, excluded economically, excluded from the appreciation and esteem of others due to his blindness.
Where Do We Go from Here?
Some lay hands on, pray for, and ask for healing for the one in need. Others seek to deal with the economic situation, teach the person to read Braille, get a dog guide, help them find a job, or create awareness of the person’s condition. Some respond through the ministry of the body, where the person finds love, appreciation, forgiveness, and acceptance. Still others quickly tell the person to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. With such varied emphases the blind man would know one aspect of Christ, but something would be missing—doing it the Jesus way.
Below are four lessons the story of Bartimaeus can teach us.
First, we must value the individual. Jesus’ method was to open up to the needs of the other person. Faced with Bartimaeus' cry, Jesus stopped, asked for him to be called, and asked the question, “What do you want me to do for you?” All these actions value the individual—not a method, ideology, or doctrine.
Jesus simply appealed to fellowship, opened up, and showed interest in the other person. This is because fellowship, cooperation, integrity, and solidarity are about sharing life and valuing the other person.
Often, we do not want to ask, “What do you want me to do for you?” We are afraid the person will ask us something unexpected, or worse, something we do not want to give or do. Asking questions causes instability and discomfort. We prefer to be in control and manage our agendas.
Second, we must press forward in faith. This implies self-management, trust, and dependence upon God. The order established according to our capacities can tell us what we can and cannot do. Bartimaeus decided to reject the role the crowd wanted to impose on him. He did not settle for being the blind man, a beggar and quiet. He came on stage at the wrong moment and decided to go to Jesus as his main resource. What was at stake was who Jesus was and what he was for him.
Third, we must learn that to follow Jesus means to leave something behind—whether that is a boat, a cloak, or a way of thinking and acting. Bartimaeus left everything, threw his cloak aside, jumped up, and broke through the crowd. He did not accept the place he had been given. His healing began at the precise moment he decided to meet Jesus. The miracle is to break free from the standards and barriers people set for us or, many times, we set for ourselves.
Finally, we must understand our real need. Perhaps the Lord is working on our life, church, and ministry. He asks, “Do you know what your real need is?” Here are a few questions to ponder as we consider the above points:
How do I value others in evangelism, fellowship, and partnership?
What kind of style and spiritual leadership makes a difference?
How do I normally relate to the whole Body of Christ? Do I welcome or do I exclude? Do I ask questions or do I impose my agenda? Do I listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit, or do I cling to already established plans?
No one can be complete, whole, or righteous without being like Jesus Christ.
(This article was originally written in Spanish. Click here to view the original.)