For most of us, September is a month of transition as we get back into our Fall routines with work, school, and various ministries here at the church and out in the community. What better time to be reminded about why we are here?
Our mission, very simply, is to see people transformed into fully devoted followers of Jesus. In other words, we are disciples who make other disciples, and we have the opportunity to live out that purpose by understanding and prioritizing three things: gospel, community, and culture.
The word gospel means, “good news,” and it’s the true story of God’s love for us demonstrated in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-3). As someone rightly put it, “The gospel is good news, not good advice.” In other words, it’s not about what we must do for God, but what He’s already done for us (Ephesians 2:4-10; Titus 3:4-7). As Christians, understanding and prioritizing this good news has far-reaching implications in our everyday lives.
For starters, the gospel tells us that we have a new identity. Knowing that all our sins have been forgiven, that we have been reconciled to God and literally adopted into His family, fills our souls with peace. We no longer have to look for a sense of who we are in the opinions of others, or the ideas and things of this world. We know who we are, because the Bible tells us that we are children of God, secure in the love of Jesus (John 1:12; Ephesians 1:3-6; 1 John 3:1-3).
Since our identity is in Christ alone, we don’t have to strive for acceptance from our peers, or anyone else. We no longer look for love in all the wrong places, or try to “find ourselves” through sinful relationships or experiences. As children of God, we have brothers and sisters in Christ, along with countless blessings and privileges that come with new life in this family of faith. If that weren’t enough, we have an eternal inheritance, reserved in heaven, just waiting for us (1 Peter 1:3-5)!
Second, the gospel tells us that we have a new purpose in life. A funny thing happens when your heart is truly changed by the grace of Christ. Not only do you find the answer to the question, “Who am I?” but you also find the answer to the question, “Why am I here?” Again, the Bible tells us that we have been created to love Him and love others, to know Him, and make Him known (1 John 5:7-12; Matthew 28:18-20; Romans 10:14-17).
You can tell that real change is under way in your heart, when you start to think, pray, and obey. The Holy Spirit will bring to mind someone in your life. It might be a friend, family member, neighbor, co-worker, fellow-student, or even an enemy. As you think about them, the Lord will prompt you to start praying for them (John 17:20-23). Be sensitive and listen. He will tell you what to pray. He will also bring to mind specific things for you to say and do that demonstrate the love of Christ. Let me encourage you to trust and obey Him.
You will find your heart becoming more and more aligned with God’s heart for the people in your life as you regularly think of them, pray for them, and simply love them well (2 Peter 3:9). This is what it means to understand and prioritize the gospel in your everyday life. Thinking and living this way is exciting, because it allows you to be an instrument in your Redeemer’s hands. It is the means God uses to transform both you, and others, into fully devoted followers of Jesus.
God builds communities of faith by uniting the people He saves and motivating them to love each other and share His good news, this gospel (Ephesians 4:1-6; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21; 1 John 3:14; Matthew 28:18-20). In a world that is becoming more and more hostile, the church is a breath of fresh air. It reconciles and unites people regardless of their gender, age, ethnicity, class, or history (Ephesians 2:14-18). Wherever people are at in life, if they are interested in becoming devoted followers of Christ, we want them to know that there is a place for them here at Calvary. This means that, while we do not compromise God’s Word, or condone any sin or sinful lifestyle, we love and welcome all sinners, who are willing to watch our lives and listen to the gospel message, because that’s how Jesus treats us.
The Bible teaches us to love one another, pray for one another, serve one another, forgive one another, comfort one another, encourage and admonish one another, etc. It is in only in the context of community, or Christian fellowship, that the “one anothers” can take place. That is why we are exhorted not to neglect building these close, intimate relationships in which we help each other grow to maturity in the love of Christ (Hebrews 10:24-25; Ephesians 4:15-16; Philippians 3:12-16). My fervent prayer is that we would understand and prioritize the gospel in this way too. In doing so, others will be attracted to a lifestyle of following Jesus.
Finally, another important priority for us is to engage culture, so that we can be a Christ-like, positive influence in our city. Whatever we do as a church, we strive for excellence, so that we can make a difference in our culture and see it transformed by Jesus. We want to represent the truths of Christianity to our world in insightful, creative, and gracious ways. I pray that you would see your special place in this grand, gospel narrative. Let’s bring our time, talents, and treasure to the Lord to be used for His purposes. If we are going to see other people transformed into fully devoted followers of Jesus, we must be “all in” as we follow Jesus into our city. Let’s engage culture to change our world for the glory of His name!