It’s important to know who we are and why we exist. That’s true for us as individuals, but it is also true for us as a church. It’s not about who we are as much as Whose we are. And why we exist has to be so much more than just going to church. Our church has not always had a clear sense of direction, but as we’ve read our history we learn that our church began with community Bible study and prayer with a determination to be a ‘community’ church. Reclaiming who we are and who we are called to be, we are unveiling our new mission statement to lead us:
“Celebrating our life together in Christ through authentic and transformative discipleship, integrated and intentional community, and an effervescent commitment to continuing the work of Jesus.”
We celebrate our life together in Christ through authentic and transformative discipleship…
[Read 1 Timothy 4:9-16]
Timothy was a young follower of Jesus and a student of Paul. He grew up in a mixed family with a Greek father and Jewish Christian mother. He trusted Christ at a young age, becoming a leader and missionary who served with Paul. Paul’s message was clear to Timothy: watch closely how you live and what you teach (1 Tim. 4:16). In other words, teach the right things and do the right things.
Some say that what we believe does not matter — it’s what you do. Do enough good, and you’re good. Still others through the years have insisted that what you do doesn’t really matter — it’s what you believe. Believe this checklist (say this creed), and you’re good.
So which is it?
I think authentic discipleship involves both. I admit that we can feel the tension in scripture between the ‘right thinking’ camp and the ‘right living’ camp (orthodoxy vs. orthopraxy). As black and white thinkers, we tend to lean to one or the other, but somewhere in the middle is an authentic journey of faith. Doctrine matters. How we live matters.
Right belief + right living = authentic and transformative discipleship.
Our culture tells us that authenticity means being true to yourself. It sounds right, but Jesus never calls us to be our authentic selves. Instead, he is calling us to himself where our wonderful and complex personhood is redeemed and renewed. I think the truest and most authentic self is found redeemed in Christ!
And an authentic relationship with Jesus is a transforming one. As we give ourselves to God’s mean of grace, the Holy Spirit begins his transforming work in us. Jesus changes us — and I admit this transformation has been slow at times as I struggle to yield fully to God. We are being transformed for a reason: 1] Preparing us for home, and 2] Preparing us for his purposes.
We hope to be an authentic and transforming community with Jesus keeping us real and doing his work within us.