Recently,Barry Saunders wrote an article in the News and Observer titled, These Folks
act rather than blame. I was pleasantly surprised. There was however, one
sentence that annoyed me more than a little. When Barry asked what was the
mission of our church, he only quoted half of what I said. He stated my
response was “To love people in underserved communities,’ he said.
Period.” He conveniently left off the most important part, “…and
encourage them to grow in their relationship with Jesus.” What sets us
apart from other institutions that simply seek to do good in this world is why
we do what we do.
We want to bring glory to Jesus and build His church. As followers of Jesus, we
have been given power to live extraordinary lives for His kingdom. When we come
into the family of God by faith we receive everything necessary to have impact
in this world:
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you
will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end
of the earth.” Acts 1:8
This promise encourages us to be exactly who we’ve become- Christ’s witnesses. We
are to become like Jesus in the world so that those who don’t know Him can see Him in their midst and accept or reject Him.
This is our role to play in the great story of God. We were not given this power to do as we please for our own comfort and satisfaction. We are not even
given this power to help others live comfortable and satisfied lives. We are given this power to show the world what God is up to and draw others into His
family, His church.
At Hope Community Church, God has given us 5 key goals or characteristics to live
by as we build this family. In the tradition of early church fathers from centuries ago, I like to view these as practices and
refer to them as the Five Practices of Hope:
- Live What you Learn
- Serve Where you are Gifted
- Give of your Resources
- Connect with Others
- Share your Story
For the past hundred years or so, the church in America seems to have been mainly
focused on orthodoxy, right thinking or teaching. This is very important as the Bible tells us that as a man thinks so he is. Unfortunately
some times, right thought doesn’t necessarily lead to right practice. As a result we often get legalism and hypocrisy. We need orthopraxis, right living, just as much.
Right living puts meat on what we say. We have been given power to become the
incarnate word of God as we literally become the hands and feet of Jesus wherever we go. We never forget that we are becoming like Jesus. It is our
ultimate goal. As we become like Jesus, we practice certain things as the result of who we are. As the deer pants for the water, we stay in His presence
through His word and His people, and by His grace, live lives holy and set apart. This is our witness to a broken world- we love people right where they
are, because Jesus first loved us.
This is good news and we want the world to know it!