Our Vision: Enjoying a growing relationship with God
There's a big difference between religion and Christianity. Religion is all about rules - trying to earn God's love and acceptance through what we do for him. Christianity is all about relationship - receiving God's approval and love through what he has done for us. That's why Jesus is at the heart of Christianity. He's not just another spiritual guru. He's the Son of God. And his arrival on earth over 2,000 years ago was the culmination of God's pursuit of relationship with you and me.
When God first made the world, he made it perfectly. No brokenness. No suffering. Holy as he is holy. Man enjoyed intimate relationship with God. Then tragedy struck. The first man and woman rebelled against God's gracious rule, severing their relationship with the Holy One. Sin entered the world, and with sin came sickness, conflict, violence and death. The holiness and justice of God obligates him to punish sin. He can't overlook it. He can't ignore it. If he did, he would cease to be God.
All of us are born under God's judgment as descendants of Adam and Eve, our rebellious actions only adding to our inherited guilt. Apart from divine intervention, the second coming of Christ spells nothing but judgment and destruction for sinners like us. It's not because God has an anger problem. It's because he's holy and we're not. That's the bad news.
Praise God that's not the only news. When Jesus lived a perfect life on earth for 33 years, he earned the right standing before God we could never earn. Then he died on the cross, absorbing in himself the divine wrath that we deserved. And he rose from the grave, proving our moral debt to God was paid in full. So if we repent of our sins and trust in Jesus as our Savior, then not only does God forgive all our sin, but he gives us Jesus' perfect righteousness. The intimate relationship Jesus enjoyed with God the Father as his son is now ours too as adopted sons and daughters of the King.
That's the story of the gospel. It's a story of God's pursuit of relationship you and me. It's a story whose final chapter awaits the second coming of Christ. Until the day he brings us home to heaven, we want enjoying a growing relationship with Him to be our goal because it's His goal. It's where all history is heading - the joy of restored relationship with God.
Our Mission: Treasuring Jesus
Our vision answers the question, "Where are we going?" Our mission answers the question, "How are we going to get there?" How are we going to enjoy a growing relationship with God? We believe God has given us three primary means. First, and most importantly, treasuring Jesus.
Relationship with God begins with turning from sin in repentance and turning toward Jesus in faith. But Jesus isn't simply the gateway into relationship with God. He's also the means by which we grow in our relationship with God. In 2 Cor. 3:18, Paul declares, "And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another." Later in 2 Cor. 4:6, Paul tells us where we behold the glory of the Lord. "For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."
What's the point? God is committed to transforming us into His image because the more we're like God, the more we will enjoy relationship with God. And God grows us into His image by revealing who He is and what He's done for us in Jesus.
When we experience God's personal, sacrificial love for us in Jesus, we are empowered to love our spouses, our kids, our co-workers, as God has loved us (1 Jn. 4:19). When we see how God meets our greatest need for salvation from sin in Jesus, we are empowered to trust God to meet all our other needs (Rom. 8:32). Whenever we savor the wisdom of Christ, the beauty of Christ, or the supremacy of Christ above anything else in this world, we are empowered to exchange materialism for generosity, lust for purity, anger for patience. Seeing and savoring all that God is for us in Jesus changes everything.
We want Jesus to be at the center of all we do because He is at the center of all God is doing (Col. 1:15-20). That's why we often talk at KingsWay about being gospel-centered. It's in the gospel, the historical narrative of Jesus' life, death and resurrection, that we most clearly see God's glory and experience His transforming power. Growing in our relationship with God means learning to treasure Jesus.
Our Mission: Pursuing authentic community
Have you ever noticed you can know all kinds of people and yet feel incredibly alone? Acquaintances at the office or gym are great. Facebook friends are fun to follow. But they're no substitute for authentic community, a place where we experience the security of knowing and being known.
Where does that longing come from? The Bible tells us that our longing for community is a function of our identity. We crave community because we were created for community by God.
God is a relational being - one God in three persons, Father, Son and Spirit (Eph. 1:3-14). From eternity past, God the Father has enjoyed perfect relationship with God the Son (Jn. 17:5). God the Spirit has enjoyed perfect relationship with God the Son, and so on. So it's no surprise that when God created man in his own image, he declared, "It is not good for man to be alone". (Gen. 1:26-27, 2:18). God's creation of Eve as a wife for Adam was about more than marriage. It was a loud statement of our need for community as God's image bearers.
The first man and women experienced unbroken relationship with God and one another. Then sin entered the world, destroying their relationship with God and one another (Gen. 3). Bitterness, anger, jealousy, slander and violence became the norm in human relationships and have been ever since then.
However God doesn't leave us mired in the fallout of shattered relationships. The gospel is all about God putting back together what sin destroyed. Through Jesus' death and resurrection, we can be reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5:19-20) and reconciled to one another (Eph. 2:14). Young and old, rich and poor, black and white, we are united in Jesus Christ (Gal. 3:28).
Which means Christianity isn't just a Jesus and me thing. It's a Jesus and us thing (1 Cor. 12:27). It's not about private spirituality. It's about living out our corporate identity in Christ. You can't enjoy a growing relationship with God apart from a growing relationship with God's people (1 Jn. 4:20). That's why we seek to practice every aspect of the Christian life at KingsWay in the context of community (Act. 2:42-47).
Our Mission: Loving our neighbors
Few people, including most non-Christians, would argue against the golden rule - treating others as you want them to treat you. Nothing against the golden rule, but that's not what we mean by loving our neighbors.
Loving our neighbors is ultimately about loving God (Matt. 22:37-39). If we're going to enjoy a growing relationship with God, we must learn to love what God loves. Who does God love? All the people around us. After all, they bear His image. So how do we love them? By proclaiming the gospel with our words (Rom. 10:13-14) and adorning the gospel with our deeds (Matt. 5:16). That means being generous, being honest, protecting the weak, practicing justice and pursuing reconciliation. Bottom line - being holy as He is holy (Lev. 19:1-18).
Call it evangelism. Call it social justice. Call it love. Whether we're sharing the gospel with a co-worker, extending hospitality to the family next door, teaching kids in Sunday school, praying with a dying saint, or distributing food to the materially poor, our relationship with God will only grow to the extent we're loving others as He has loved us. The more we spend ourselves helping our neighbor enjoy a growing relationship with God, the more we will find our own delight in who God is and what He's done increasing (Phil. 1:3-7).