Love - 'Love Does,' 'Love Alone is Worth the Fight,' 'Love is a Verb.' Jesus commands each one of us to first love God, then love others. Love is the bedrock. It is the core value of our faith and life. It is the passion through which God came down to us through Jesus Christ so that we may be redeemed from our brokenness and saved by his grace. And it ought to saturate everything we do. The primary task then of all Christians, and thereby the Church, is foremost to love. Every other task of the Church flows out of this core command.
Story - Every one of of us participates in an unfolding story taking place all around us all the time. Our stories include family, culture, society, ethnicity, race, and so on. Relationships make up our story. Place makes up our story. Past and present decisions and failures make up our story. Our stories shape us. How our stories weave together matters for our identity and faith formation. It is within these perspectives that we engage one another with our stories and the great drama of Scripture, a story and history big enough to encompass all of us. The Good News about the history of Scripture is that it includes everyone - every story fits into the story of God! It's just a matter of discovering where!
Community - Ephesians 4:4-6 states, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” The Spirit of Jesus unites all of us who believe into one holy and set apart community, as one Body, serving Jesus as our Head. Community sets the foundation for Christian faith. Belong, then Believe. In Essentials Unity, In Non-Essentials Liberty, In All Things Charity. Community must be present and valued to truly experience the redemption of Christ and the Kingdom of God.
Kingdom - The broken, fractured world in which we live is not at all what God intended for us and his creation. The result of our sin broke our relationship with God. We broke it, not God. Sin is our mess - one in which we continue to perpetuate, but cannot solve. The Gospel, however, proclaims the Good News to the world that through Jesus Christ, God has not given up on us. Rather, God has desired from the beginning - from Genesis chapter 3 onward - to redeem our relationship with him, satisfy the consequence of our own destruction, and bring the world back to rights, as God always intended for it. The Hebrew prophets from the Old Testament referred to this work as ‘Shalom’ work. The New Testament writers call it 'restoration.' At the heart, all of this - everything - belongs to God. And God desires to bring all of humanity and creation back into harmony with himself and one another.
Grace - The cross and resurrection of Jesus proclaimed to the world the 'evangelion' of grace and redemption. Where we see injustice, Jesus proclaims freedom! Where we feel pain, Jesus proclaims peace. Where we experience brokenness, Jesus proclaims healing. The Good News of Jesus proclaims Grace, for where we broke our relationship with God, he gives us another chance, another chance, and another chance! Therefore, when we follow the example of Jesus and extend grace to others in the same way that Jesus extended undeserved grace to us, we too get to participate in God’s work of redemption wherever we go!
Shout! - And so then, Jesus commands us to go into our towns, our country, and the far reaches of our world for the sake of sharing this AWESOME news of LOVE, STORY, COMMUNITY, KINGDOM, and GRACE! Jesus calls his followers to dive into his mission of redemption, fearlessly crossing global, economic, racial, and cultural boundaries, so that we may SHOUT and LIVE as witnesses to God’s work of redemption and restoration taking place all over the world. May you seek to live into this commission with courage and a steadfast commitment, desiring to see God bring about the Kingdom of God on Earth - as it is in Heaven - through the unity and power of the Church!