“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the fullest.” –Jesus (John 10:10)
Life to the fullest, or Real Life! The gospel or “good news” is all about people finding new and abundant life through Jesus Christ; this is the life we were created for! While we might ask Jesus what we should do, he made it clear that who we are through a relationship with the Father is what matters most. This is the process that we use that will help us fulfill God’s plan for our lives to be real.
Real life is messy and broken and painful. It is also full of joy and healing and celebration. The Real God comes to heal all that is broken and give a lasting joy to the fleeting good.
Because traditional Christianity has often held that people get right with God simply by believing the right things, many Christians tend to get their “life” (their core sense of identity, worth, significance and security) from the rightness of their beliefs. Our conviction is that followers of Jesus should get all of their “life” from the love that God has shown them on Calvary. Attempt to get our “life” from any other source of “life”—including the assumed rightness of our beliefs—is idolatry.
People are created to get all of their core identity, worth, significance and security—their life—from their relationship with Jesus Christ, and from him alone. By paying an unsurpassable price for us on the cross, God revealed that every human being has unsurpassable worth to him, and so to us. We believe God’s love, revealed on the cross, is to be the sole source of our self-identity, our worth, our security and our sense of being fully alive. This means we should never attempt to get “life” from believing we are right (or by any other means, such as by how rich or well-respected or attractive we are).
When people try to get “life” from the rightness of their beliefs or from anything else—we believe they are engaging in idolatry. This is why so many Christians become agitated, irrational and unloving when the rightness of their beliefs are challenged (as do people who are involved in political idolatry). By contrast, when people get all their “life” from Christ, no aspect of their core identity, worth or security is threatened by being proven wrong, or being close to people different from them, or losing or gaining the world. This is why we seek to be able to discuss our differences in a calm, and loving manner. And can even change our minds about ideas.
Along the same lines, against the ethnocentrism that plagues our world, we believe Jesus died to create “one new humanity” (Ephesians 2:15) that has done away with the separating walls erected from the curse of Babel (Gen 11). In Christ, all ethnic, gender and class distinctions that the world invests so much significance in are rendered utterly insignificant (Gal 3: 27-9). We thus believe racial reconciliation is not something a church can choose to engage in or not. To the contrary, it is one of the reasons for which Jesus died, and as such, it must be proclaimed and practiced by all followers of Jesus. It is the core of the Gospel. Without it we have lost the Gospel.
Racial reconciliation involves, among other things, relationship-building across racial lines. For only by this means can people of different races enter into each other’s story and learn to understand and appreciate their distinct perspectives, birthed out of their different experiences.
We believe in mentoring and not programing. We are a people who love Jesus and show us how to love him, too. We believe in loving people enough that we will invest our time, resources, real lives in them.
We believe in worship we intersect our real lives with the real God who comes to us in his real and living Word and in his real body and real blood in the sacraments to change us in real ways.
We will be intentionally slow and simple, not putting extra burdens, or programs or busyness instead calling people to rest, refocus and to real life
We will be reflective on our own reality of our personal lives
We will be intentional in focus on our neighborhood, listening to their needs
We will call people to lives of generosity once they find all their fulfillment in Christ
We will be intentional in building relationships outside of our silos as a reflection of who God is and be real with each other because...
- In Jesus, God became a human and so identifies fully with every human (Hebrews 2:17), and his mission embraces all of humankind (Matt. 1:1-17; Luke 3:23-38);
- Value is determined by the price Jesus paid -
- “God doesn’t show favoritism” (Acts 10:34–35); and
- The Book of Concord teaches that all Christians will make the will of Christ supreme in their own lives and in human society, and so opposing all forms of racism (AC Ap V 1-3);
Unless Christ returns - We know that we will all grow older, get sick and die, and so bringing the hope of Christ to the elderly and dying is the deepest reality.
We will support the immigrant and needy, by including people of all status’ into places of leadership, listening to their voice and so begin to work against - anything less is a blatant denial of the unity of the body of Christ, into which all who have been baptized into his name have been incorporated (1 Cor. 12:13) for Jesus Christ has removed all barriers between all human beings, making peace through His cross (Eph. 2:13-16);
God has been really good at real life by becoming incarnate in Jesus and so we can really follow him.