Pastor Chris Tweitmann
Everyone. Everywhere. Flourishing in Christ.
In brief, this expresses the focus of our mission as Grace. Our future together will be dedicated to sharing this vision for all humanity offered through the Gospel and experienced as one yields before the reality of God’s Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. Biblically, flourishing is learning, growing, maturing per God’s design and intent for us.
Flourishing happens, by the grace of God as we are rooted in Christ. Through God who came down in the flesh in Christ we are offered forgiveness – a clean slate in terms of our broken, flawed, and fractured lives – as well as victory over death. We look to Jesus to discover and to understand what it means to be human. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit we are empowered to develop the habits of Christ and become all we were created to be.
Flourishing happens through our love of God, but it also involves love expressed toward our neighbor – others, strangers, even our enemies. Both the vertical and horizontal axis of our relationships must line up. We flourish in Christ only as far as others do.
For the last two weeks, we’ve taken this vision of our future together just a bit further as we have unpacked the four guiding principles that are key to our flourishing together in Christ.
Keeping our eyes on Jesus, we have learned that everyone is welcome in the Kingdom of God.
As the Church, we have come to appreciate that we honestly & fully extend that welcome by loving without conditions – just like Jesus does. Learning from and becoming like Christ definitely will stretch us, but, as we realized last Sunday, being stretched is how we grow. If we are witnesses of the love, grace, and truth of the Gospel and the Kingdom, there ought to be evidence of both in and through our lives.
Now we turn to three specific objectives that have been laid out as the identifying marks of being the kind of community we envision. This Sunday, we will discuss the first of these marks: Being a Follower of Jesus. Now, at first, that might appear to be a fairly obvious goal – not just for us at Grace but for any Christian. Come prepared to hear that maybe, this isn’t an obvious as it should be.
On the one hand, the use of the words “believe” and “follow” in the Bible have essentially the same meaning. And yet, an artificial distinction has been created between the two. To many, the word “believe” is applied as a mental acknowledgement, agreement and acceptance of Jesus Christ and what He did. One only needs to “believe in Jesus” to be a Christian. If one “accepts Christ,” one is good to go.
Notice what is missing here. Any notion or recognition that belief in or acceptance of Jesus must lead to following Him. Many believe in Jesus but not everyone follows Christ. What’s the difference? Can believing and following be separated from each other? Can we truly do one without the other?
These are questions we will consider as we contemplate how we are to live out the vision for our future as Grace. To do so, let us honestly wrestle with the tension between desiring Jesus as our Savior but not necessarily looking to Christ as our Lord. Together may we realize our relationship with Jesus is intended to be more than a Sunday event. Christianity is not a choose-your-own-adventure story in which we get to define the terms of our relationship to God. Following Jesus means our story is rewritten and reshaped through our relationship with Jesus. In this way, our lives are not just grafted into the Gospel but also become a glimpse and an invitation for others to learn and embrace the greatest story ever told.
Grace to you!