We want Christ to be central in who we are and what we do because he is the reason we exist (Col 1:16-17; Heb 1:3, 2; Cor 3:18, 4:6). It is only through Christ that we can redemptively engage anyone or anything (Col 3.17). Thus, Christ is both the means and the model of Spirit-led discipleship. As the means of Spirit-led discipleship, it is in Christ alone that anyone can experience the transforming power of redemption (Act 4.12; Eph 1.7; Col 1.14). Moreover, through Christ’s death and resurrection his disciples are given his Spirit to empower them for Christ-imitating living, for engaging peoples and cultures with the gospel (Jn 16.7, 13). As the model of Spirit-led discipleship, Jesus followed the Spirit into trial and triumph, burdens and blessings (Lk 4.1ff). In Jesus, we observe a redemptive engagement with people and cultures in contexts of adversity and acceptance. He crossed cultural and ethnic boundaries to share His love and the offer of eternal life (Jn 4.1ff). He critiqued religious practices (Jn 2.14-17) and praised secular ones (Lk 7.2-9; 20.25; Rom 13.1-7). Jesus sought the redemption of institutions and individuals. Therefore, when we speak of “redemptively engaging peoples and cultures through Christ,” we are recognizing that our discipleship is grounded in Jesus. He is the means and the model of our faith!
Vision Statement – Part III (this is especially rough)
Because we have been ‘bought with a price’, we live in the world differently; we engage it redemptively. This does not mean that we do the redeeming; that is God’s job. Rather, we are agents or ambassadors of the redemption secured by Christ. Through his blood, Christ has reconciled all things to himself, peoples and cultures (Col 1.20). It is this blood-bought reconciliation that we have been commissioned to announce and act upon. Therefore, when we encounter people and cultures that do not show evidence of redemption, we engage them redemptively. This means that we consider people and culture from the perspective of the Redeemer. We consider ethics and activities from the viewpoint of Scripture, resulting in any number of responses: celebration, consideration, critique and condemnation. However, our evaluations of the ethics and estate of peoples and cultures (ours and others) should not be reduced to theoretical estimation. As agents of reconciliation, we carry the imperative of proclaiming redemption in Christ. Through Him, we can offer hope and healing to those aspects of life and society that are in desperate need of transformation. Not one people group or culture is to be overlooked in our pursuit of the redemption of the world, because Christ has purchased our praise and our products, our songs and our stuff, our worship and our work for his everlasting glory and honor (Isa 60; Rev 5.9; 21.22-27).
This redemptive witness, the gospel of Christ, is about justice, God’s justice. God’s justice entails both a vertical and horizontal dimension. The unchurched, unbelieving peoples of the world need to be vertically reconciled to God through Christ, in whom God’s just demands have been satisfied. This witness testifies to God’s infinite and divine justice in Christ’s perfect life and death. At the same time, it also testifies to his great mercy in Christ’s incarnation, atonement, resurrection, and intercession.
This vertical dimension of God’s justice cannot stand alone. The only way that our witness can be Christ-exalting is if justice is established both vertically and horizontally. A Christ-exalting witness exalts Christ as the Lamb and as the Lion, as the Way and the Warrior. Gospel justice that exalts the person and work of Christ must be displayed both at the cross and in the culture. What we mean is the gospel isn’t just words, but works (works of justice motivated by love). The peoples of the earth need to not only hear the gospel, but to see it in conjunction with our works. They need to see and receive horizontal redemptive witness. We want to be wholly biblical in fulfilling the Great Commission. Therefore we want to not only tell people about Jesus, but do the kinds of things that Jesus did, like eating with sinners, feeding the hungry, loving the downcast, healing the sick and lame (Mt. 25:34-36). As a result, we approach life with a desire to proclaim and to live the Gospel, that is, to do and to be a redemptive witness.
“Better one hand full of rest than two fists full of labor and striving after the wind (Ecc 4.6).”
What follows is a continuation (part II) of my personal, family and, Lord willing, eventual church vision statement. Not counting the insights to be incorporated from people’s comments (like Jason Kovacs):
Discipleship is the realization of missions and is the outworking of the Great Commission. Discipleship exists in order to gather in, equip, and mature worshipers from every tribe, tongue, and nation (Rev 5:9, 7:9). One day discipleship will no longer be necessary as the countless numbers of redeemed and glorified saints fall down on their faces, casting their crowns at the feet of King Jesus. Sanctification will be complete and sin will be no more. Discipleship is a temporary necessity; worship will last forever. However, until the last of Christ’s sheep are gathered in, according to the Great Commission, discipleship will continue among all the nations (Mt 28.18-20). Therefore, discipleship is the main work of the church and the means by which God has freely chosen to advance His kingdom and glory on the earth. We aim to do this by making disciples and not merely converts in America and beyond.
Spirit-led disciples are not a special tier of mature Christians. Every person that has called upon Christ for his or her redemption has been filled with God’s Spirit (Eph 1.13-14). As a result, every Christian is a “Spirit-filled” disciple. However, as Spirit-filled disciples we should seek a continual filling, refreshing and renewal of the power of God’s Spirit (Eph 5.18). What then, does a Spirit-led disciple look like? A Spirit-led disciple seeks this filling for Christ-imitating living. He attempts to follow the Spirit-wherever he leads, in private and in public, bearing the fruit of the Spirit- love, joy, peace, patience, etc (Gal 5.22-23). A Spirit-led disciple is fruitful not only in intangible character but in tangible life decisions. As people indwelt with the very presence of God, our lives are to be marked by a radical God-centeredness. Whatever we do, in work, witness, and leisure, we should seek to glorify God by following the Spirit. Our “Spirit-filled” character should spill over into a Spirit-led life in which we labor and leisure in a way that honors God.