Upon hearing of several major attacks in our world, including those in Istanbul, Turkey; Nice, France; Orlando, Fla.; and other cities, I can’t help but wonder what drives these acts of violence.
Our world is filled with so much hate that flows from tormented individuals, misguided religious organizations, self-centered political agendas, twisted ideologies and even hell itself. That’s why I’m so grateful for a God who chose love as the ultimate expression of His kingdom; it’s why I worship and serve Him, and Him alone.
God sent His Son, Jesus, to help us recalibrate life around love. That was the DNA of the early church, which was motivated by the example of Jesus. No one had ever impacted the world as He did. The crowds couldn’t stay away. The outcasts loved Him, the poor followed Him, and the sick pursued Him. But the religious leaders were incensed by Him.
In They Like Jesus but Not the Church, Dan Kimball shares his research after interviewing a number of unchurched young people in California. He discovered that, far from being antagonistic about faith in Jesus, they were open to faith but doubtful that the church as they knew it had anything to teach them about it.
They believed that the church is an organized religion with a political agenda, that it is negative and judgmental in outlook, and that it is generally male-dominated, homophobic and fundamentalist. Kimball summed up their attitudes by quoting Gandhi, who said: “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. You Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
If the world we live in today is going to be reached with the gospel, then the identity, ministry and mission of the church will have to be recentered and recalibrated around the person of Jesus Christ. Our church doctrine about Christ must become aligned with His Lordship, and influence all of our doctrinal perceptions and mission.
So, how do we get back to Jesus? First, we must acknowledge that we can’t separate Christ from the church. Second, we must rediscover the DNA of the early church that was centered on Jesus and His teachings. Third, we must pour ourselves into the Scripture, especially the Gospels, and let the rich truth saturate our minds and spirits. Finally, we must be open to a fresh touch of the Holy Spirit. Jesus stated in John 15:26 that this Advocate (NIV), or Helper (NKJV), would bear witness of Jesus’ life and ministry.
As we continue to drive the Five Stakes of Reimagine Foursquare, and as we align ourselves to the Great Commission (Stake 1), we will be positioned for alignment with the foundations upon which Christ built His church. If we are making disciples, they must be of Him, and not of us. His instructions were to teach them the things He had instructed. Everything must be centered on Him!
During the next four years, at which time my term in office will conclude, we will focus on the four-fold ministry of Jesus as Savior, Baptizer, Healer and King. We’ll begin in 2017 focusing on Jesus as “A Cause to Live For and A Cause to Die For.” He is the center of all things and the reason for all things.
We will explore how we make our 21st-century message about Him. We live in a world in which many have given up on institutionalized religion; but they are open more than ever to Jesus. Let’s give them Jesus!
There’s lots more to come, but I’d like to end with a story out of the book ReJesus: A Wild Messiah for a Missional Church by Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch:
There’s a story told about a young soldier of the army of Alexander the Great who deserted his post and was tracked down and captured by Alexander’s men. Normally, deserters were summarily executed by these ancient bounty hunters; but, according to this story, the young man was brought into the presence of the king. Alexander demanded that the deserter tell him his name. “I share the name of my king,” said the soldier. “My name is Alexander.” While the king went on to pardon the deserter, he did not do so before insisting, “Young man, you change your life, or you change your name.”
We’ll be communicating very soon about plans for 2017, and we want to make it all about Jesus!