Language is at the center of culture. Certainly the most basic language groups identify with one another (i.e. English used in America). However, when it comes to affinity and community, our language has to become even more specific with an understanding of vernacular, dialects, and defined terms.
The church, a local gathering of baptized believers, can affectionately gather on more basic levels of language (there are Yankees in our church I love very much), however, we really cannot gather effectively in community if we do not share defined terms (gospel, church, mission and their derivatives). These terms actually define the nature of our relationships, so we must be clear and consistent in our definitions. Words are important.
I don’t intend for this to be useless or complex, though the latter could lead to the former. However, I do believe it’s important to understand language in our cultures because what we are communicating is of paramount importance.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
(Romans 1:16-17 ESV)
Communication in a Post-Christian Culture
Most churches established in the 20th Century and the first part of the 21st Century are generally located in regions in America I would label as post-Christian. Now, that’s a generalization, I know, but just to get the ball rolling indulge me. That is, from the mid-west eastward and (mostly) southward, the church has long been established and new works have begun again and again. Much of this region has Bible-belt loops running through it. These are regions that accept the local baptist church in their midst, even seeing it as a cultural and societal staple. They know the lingo of VBS, revival, gospel, Bible, salvation. They are not shocked to see Bible studies in local coffee shops or people praying publicly before meals. Even if there is “resistance” there’s at least a cordial “that’s good for them” kind of mentality toward Christians.
The difficulty of communication in post-Christian culture is re-defining (in a biblical sense) the terms that the culture as come quite accustomed to defining in general. For instance, “gospel” is a rich, biblical term that refers to the good news of God saving people through the redemptive work of Christ, sealing them by the Holy Spirit for eternal life. In general, post-Christian cultures would understand this to be the larger term for all things “evangelical” and most specifically a folksy reference to our “faith.” Of course, even “evangelical” and “faith” are not as distinctly understood as need be. A merely general understanding of the gospel can lead to a person being specifically unsaved.
The charge for those of us in post-Christian cultures is to be clear in our definitions and terms, consistently explaining them and their consequential actions (according to Scripture). The more we assume the people understand these “church” terms, the more our pews will be filled with unregenerate members. May the lost fill our pews, but they should not make it to our membership rolls. We should seek to make the gospel, and it’s covenant community, clearly understood and consistently lived.
Communication in a Pre-Christian Culture
I was recently in the least religious city in the country, Boulder, CO. It was helpful to have had a conversation with a pastor out “west” who described the western frontier as “pre-Christian” prior to my arrival in Boulder. Even though there are many church buildings in the central part of Boulder, the distinctiveness of Christian witness had long been swallowed up by the local culture. Eventually, the culture can be so overrun with secularism that it’s post-Christian elements become pre-Christian, as if there had been no history of Christian witness.
For the sake of communicating in these environments, it is important that we understand that, yes, our definitions are to be clear and consistent as they are in post-Christian cultures, but we also have to understand that the terms themselves have been unheard and absent. If they have been heard, they are so deeply buried in the secularism of the culture, that’s they are part of an ancient time when Christians roamed the land.
So, no assumptions of common language can be made, only a desire to introduce the clear, biblical term with clear and consistent biblical definition. This is particularly potent when combined with the consistent living out of these terms by the local gathering of the community of believers, the church.
Without a doubt, the overlap in both cultures is to clearly and consistently define terms. The only difference in pre-Christian cultures is to be intentional to introduce the terms to be defined.
What does this practically mean for all of us in local churches? We need to be sure we understand our own terms, our own definitions, and our own lifestyles. It is wildly confusing to share terms, with biblical definitions, that are devoid of biblical application. Our lives do not define terms by themselves, but they can adorn the gospel words so that the terms are RIGHTLY understood.
Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. Bondservants are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.
(Titus 2:7-10 ESV)
That said, we must never forsake words. We must use words, forming sentences, to communicate what the Scriptures says about God, about man, about Christ, and about responding to the gospel call. We need to not redefine terms as much as biblically clarify terms. We should work harder in sermon prep, Bible study prep, personal Bible study, and leadership vision casting to use terms that are biblical, biblically defined, and biblically described leading to the kind of transformation the Bible speaks.
And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
(1 Corinthians 2:1-5 ESV)
Yesterday after the Easter Sunday service, I had a confrontation with a young woman who was visibly upset over a statement I made that God does not love everyone. I talked her through what I meant to say, affirming God’s show of love for mankind in the death of His son, and the fact that God loves people that the world deems unloveable. However, I also said that Esau was despised by God and that God certainly raises up nations and rulers for the purpose of redemption for His own.
But, I should’ve been more careful and clear with such a grand statement.
I should have said more clearly that God doesn’t love everyone in the same way, but that really would’ve required more explanation, and wasn’t the main point I was trying to make. Essentially, I should’ve focused on what gives God pleasure without any statements regarding God’s extended love. One of those “do-overs” I wish I could just edit out. But, I can’t
I do believe that God loves the whole world, but not in the same way that He loves His own. God shows a particularly love (covenant) with His spiritual children, and this can be traced all the way back to why He chose Israel and made promises to (and thru) Abraham.
I would also say, that there is a love that occurs in His wrath and judgment. It is, however, a love that is for His glory and renown. While God shows great patience and compassion for mankind, for we all deserve immediate death penalties, He is particularly faithful in preserving His sheep, having secured their hope in Him forever.
As you can see, there’s much more that could be said, and needs to be in order to provoke us to praise, which should be the end of any doctrinal discussion. So, it just supports that I should have said nothing regarding God’s love.
There’s lots of talk about the gospel and culture / contextualization. Sometimes the discussion is lost on me, particularly when it sounds like we’re just outsmarting ourselves and (seemingly) over-complicating, therefore diluting, the gospel message. That said, understanding the culture that we’re in is quite crucial for effective ministry.
Each of our cities and towns have primary and secondary cultures. We can make generalized statements about regions and cities in our country, but there’s always another set of sub-cultures running around. As our major cities are going through a re-urbanization, the increase of diverse cultures follows. We would be wise to notice the primary and “sub” cultures all around us.
One thing I’ve realized in serving in a predominantly southern (SEC in particular) culture is that the gospel message is often diluted by the veneer of gospel ministries and the assumption of known language. See, language is at the center of the culture, even the major defining factor of a culture. Certainly, from primary languages you can understand more about the specific cultures by their dialects and vernacular speech. We must understand the language of the culture we live in in order to communicate with them the message of gospel that is for every culture on the planet.
Clarity is needed.
Many have said that we live in a post-christian age, and this is on the heals of all the post-modernity speak. I suppose one could argue that the more “modern” we’ve become, the less “Christian” we’ve become…as a society. This may be true in large part, and it certainly exposes the need to be clear in our understanding of the gospel and the definitions of the words necessary to explain the gospel.
Recently I spent a good deal of time in Boulder, Colorado visiting with several church leaders about culture, Christianity, and church planting. What I witnessed and understood more about this eclectic city is just how rabidly individualized the people are, as well as how pre-Christian the culture seems to be.
What do I mean about pre-Christian? In a recent conference call with a pastor in Las Vegas, he attached that phrase to his setting. His understanding of the culture as pre-Christian really intrigued me and it made a lot of sense both descriptively and prescriptively in biblical implication and application. To know that the culture indeed may have a spiritual dynamic, yet knows nothing of Christianity, including her terms, is of vital importance. To preach and live the gospel, no assumptions can be made in a pre-Christian society.
You really don’t have to look much further than the cultures that were addressed in the New Testament epistles. The gospel of Jesus Christ was proclaimed simply and pointedly from the scriptures. Those who wanted to know more were focused on, then some believed and some didn’t. Where there were believers, churches were started with simple structures, but with qualified men. Church was highly relational, messy, and explicitly gospel focused. People knew the culture of their churches because they lived there and loved there. The churches were inclusive enough for all to hear and be welcome, yet exclusive enough for only baptized believers to share in covenant life together. The leaders had to know Christ’s teachings well enough to promote the clear gospel and protect against error…but, while error was not acceptable, the church communities invited people who didn’t have all their theological ducks in a row. Again, robustly biblical, yet messy. Frankly, you can’t out-structure or out-strategize error, meaning you can’t setup some overly rigid structure that rules out error just so everything stays neat and tidy. You have to have simple structures and strategies so real communication and real relationships are fostered, where truth and error are addressed in love.
Enter Cormac McCarthy and Bryan Litfin.
McCarthy and Litfin are both writers. McCarthy has written some of the most graphic period pieces (Blood Meridian, Border Trilogy) and descriptive dystopian works (The Road) that you will find in modern literature. Litfin is a theologian and professor at The Moody Institute in Chicago and has written The Chiveis Trilogy, which deals largely with what would happen if, after an apocalyptic event, the Word of God was freshly discovered and how would it effect society.
Two quick admissions… I’ve not read fiction well, and I particularly loathe Christian fiction. That said, I’ve taken to reading more of McCarthy and have read Litfin’s trilogy. For different reasons I like them both, with Litfin probably being the biggest surprise.
So, why do I mention these authors and their works? Well, it goes back to the original question, “When does post-Christian become pre-Christian?” See, in order to plant churches and revitalize gospel witness in our present cultures, we need to understand something of what we’re dealing with. The thought that occurred to me that to argue if something is “post” or “pre” Christian is likened to arguing over the advancement of technology in a society that has had an apocalyptic event and is devoid of all electricity two generations prior. While knowing the historical facts may prove helpful in restoring electricity, the truth is by the time the discussion is had, the people have learned to live without it.
My contention is that, without over-generalizing, much of the cultures we are dealing with, particularly out west, are pre-Christian now, but have been formerly post-Christian, with the transformation occurring from some culturally apocalyptic events. I won’t take the time here to address the varied events, though they are important, the larger thought is that with the speed of change, technology, and information we have seen much of our country move from post to pre-Christian at a very fast clip.
We must respond with a biblical response. Without using terms like “missional” or “gospel-centered” whatever, we need to be explicitly clear with our terms, unabashedly simple in our church structures, and focused intently on what it simply means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ gathered in local communities call churches.
See, the way we deal with such changing cultures is not to focus on their varied influences, though this has great import. The emphasis is to know who YOU are as a Christian and as a church. You are not going to out-savvy the locals with your cultural IQ and witticisms. You must be biblically distinct in your love for God and His church, while living in and loving where you live. Overly simplistic, I know, but this is what is called for in the cultural confusion of the day.
Two quick suggestions…
1) Where you are… Step out of your sub-culture comfort zone to get some “fresh eyes” on the present situation you’re REALLY living in. Remember what it is about the place that you love and pray for spiritual eyes to love the people in your midst.
2) Where you are going… Maybe you’re moving or heading into a different place to plant a church. First, make sure you are equipped with the Scriptures in truth and love, which will carry you across any culture. Secondly, spend some time in the next context, either in the exact context or one as near it as you can get, to get a handle on what biblical discipleship looks like, sounds like, is perceived like in the new context. This may mean church planting takes longer, and has a slower response rate. Thirdly, love your spouse. Every context has marriage, and even though marriage by biblical definitions is taking cultural hits right now, that doesn’t change that your marriage should emulate the gospel in any context you live in. Lastly, abide. Your love for God (and His Word) is what is necessary for effective ministry and endurance. Read Psalm 19…memorize it, pray it.
I realize this is a much bigger discussion than what’s been posted here, and much of this is merely a conversation starter. However, the need for us to understand our cultures that we live in is important, but HOW you live in that culture as a biblical disciple of Christ is vital.
In my previous post, I wrote a bit about the nature of love…the basics. In this post I’d like to address one of the first implications of understanding what it means to say, “God is love.”
If God is love, and He is, and love is defined in God by His atoning work on behalf of sinners, and it is, then we are compelled to embrace truth and do something with it. As much as we seek love, or whatever we are calling “love”, we must understand that we are hardwired to pursue love with relentless passion.
So, the first implication of running after love as it is defined by God (His nature & work) we must love what God loves. So, what does God love?
God Loves His Glory
11 Judah has been faithless, and abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem. For Judah has profaned the sanctuary of the Lord, which he loves, and has married the daughter of a foreign god. 12 May the Lord cut off from the tents of Jacob any descendant of the man who does this, who brings an offering to the Lord of hosts!
This “self-love” of God does not make Him egomaniacal. Throughout the Old Testament, whether established “on the run” in a tent, or fortified and beautified in the heart of Jerusalem, the temple represented God’s presence with His people, reminding the people that He is their God. The very first commandment states, “You shall have no other gods before me,” (Deut.5:7). This commandment begins the famous 10, but is preceded by God’s reminder, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt…” (v.6).
So, loving God is an expression of those who have been delivered by God’s gracious, sovereign hand. Loving God is the natural response of God’s people. In fact, in Deut.6 we are given the “great commandment” to love God with all we are (6:5), summing up the heart of the law itself. God loves His glory and has brought about redemption to put His glory on display. This glory is displayed with the redeemed love God above all else.
God Loves His Bride
25 I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; 27 for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father
Toward the end of the Upper Room discourse, Christ addresses His disciples to prepare for what’s to come. He is telling them that they are about to understand a whole lot more about His divine purposes, and much of what He has already done in their midst. It’s about to look pretty grim, so just prior to His high priestly prayer in Chapter 17, He follows the above words with the bold declaration that He has overcome the world. This is coming from their leader who is about to look awfully defeated. He tells them this in love, for love.
Christ’s bride is made up of the redeemed, and the redeemed believe that Christ is exactly who He says He is and trust all that He said and did on their behalf. The Father loves His children, His bride. We are reminded here that you cannot love God without loving Christ, and you cannot love Christ if you do not love His bride.
God Loves Cheerful Givers
6 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.
2 Corinthians 9:6-8
Cheerful giving is the fruit of those who find their sufficiency in Christ alone. Essentially, God loves those who treasure Him above all else. We are to love what He loves. We are to love treasuring the Son and giving of ourselves and possessions as fruit of that treasuring. God loves it when we hold loosely to stuff, even the very blessings He has given.
We should esteem lavish giving. Now, this is not some kind of “giving” trick…you know, the kind that says, “Sow your seed and watch God give you back ten-fold. You can’t out give God!” Sorta truth, but sounds & feels more like rubbish. You give to give, not to get. To reap from sowing doesn’t mean you invest in God and ministry like some aggressively played stock. This sniffs of those who treat God like a genie or sugar daddy, thereby saying they love God’s blessings more than God Himself. I don’t love God because He gives me stuff. I love God because He gave me Himself!
God Loves His Children Loving One Another
34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
Back in the Upper Room, at the beginning of His discourse, we see the front bookend of His passion for love for the disciples. Here, Christ states the novum mandatum (new commandment…think, Maundy Thursday during Passion Week), that the disciples are to love one another, most distinctly as Christ as love them. There’s really not space here to trace the manner in which He has loved them, but they are about to see the culmination of His love in His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension.
John the apostle gives us a more “interpretive” gospel and we see this extrapolated in 1 John. Essentially, John’s gospel helps us see what God’s love for us looks like in the finished and sufficient person and work of Christ. John’s letters (1-3 John) give us a picture of what the true believer’s love looks like in conjunction with their love for God. Remember the great commandment? John’s work in the New Testament gives us a great picture of loving God and loving others.
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.
1 John 4:7
Loving “one another” is a direct expression of God’s love abiding in the believer. Most of us know that 1 John is written so that the believer will have the blessing of being assured of salvation. Loving the body of Christ, the church, is the great evidence John says we are to look for for such assurance.
Do you love the church?
What marks of love for the church do you possess?
20 If anyone says, I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
1 John 4:20-21
“Hate” is a strong word. While this word certainly carries the strength of meaning we associate with it, it also means to “consider with less affection.” At the core, hatred is selfishness. Do we seek the good of others above our own in the gathering of the saints? Do we seek to outdo one another in service and acts of kindness?
Christ said the world we know we are His by our love for one another (John 13:35). We cease to be salt, light, evangelistic when we are not expressly seeking to love the body of Christ.
With all that we’ve said about love, it is clear that for love to be present in the local church it must be explicitly and implicitly about the gospel of Jesus Christ. At the heart of our love is redemptive love. Christ defined love for us in His saving work…
In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
1 John 4:9-12
So, in the church there is no love apart for real knowledge of the atoning work of Jesus Christ. We should preach this gospel to ourselves in every corner of our gatherings and seek to see this gospel exercised in every show of love in our gatherings, both corporately and more individually.
God Loves Obedience
1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world— our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
1 John 5:1-5
Loving God means loving what God loves. God loves obedience to His commandments because ultimately our obedience to God shows that Christ is victorious! That’s right…our obedience shows that Christ has overcome the world in our overcoming obedience. We forget just how totally the world is held captive in sinful disobedience because the world is an unregenerate enemy of God and all that He deems beautiful and loving. Only the sovereign grace of God through the person and work of Christ can cause us to joyfully obey God.
Those who love God love His children…His church.
Those who love God obey His commandments.
Those who love God do not see His commandments as burdensome, rather as acts of victory.
Those who love God want to see Jesus Christ put on display more than anything else.
Those who love God only do so because, through Christ, God loved them first.
The title of this post just sends the mind humming along with Foreigner’s epic question put to classic rock-ballad tune back in 1984. ”Love” is the most sung about, and written about, subject known to man (no data, just guessing here). Whether coming from the perspective of a hyper-sexualized segment of society, or the ultra-conservative religious right, the question is posed and answered… What is love?
You don’t have to look far into the headlines to see how culture answers that question… Tolerance, Equality, Rights, Freedom, Sex, Benevolence, Acceptance, Giving
While I would be uncomfortable defining love solely by any of the above words, they could be descriptive of the defining biblical answer…
Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
(1 John 4:8 ESV)
We assert this to be true, because the Scriptures are true and God is true. Therefore, everyone, willing or not, will (eventually) understand love as it’s defined by God (His nature & His work). Essentially, when we cease to view Scripture as sufficient, thereby sufficiently depicting God, then we will skew love to mean what our nature tends toward…all inclusive, never exclusive, without accountability, only what supports “the way we are.”
What’s astounding about 1 John to me is that the wonderfully pastoral book, written to give the believer assurance, is so focused on the fruit of love for God and one another. What we can surmise is that to love, genuinely love, what God loves is to be assured of His love for us in salvation. With that, when we grasp the fact that this Divine love for us is articulated in terms of His divine nature, we see that there is no room for sentimentality or duplicity in our understanding of love. He loves because He loves. We love because He loved us first.
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
(1 John 4:7-12 ESV)
Church, love is our evidence that we are born of God AND it is evidence to the world that God exists. Love is tough. It’s hard to love because we want to be loved, made much of, but not necessarily driven to make much of loving others. But if we are aiming to live in God then we will aim to live in love. His nature and work are consistent, so if we bear His nature, we will bear His work.
To bear His work of love, we must know the essence of His love. This is seen in the passage above, “In this is love…” First, love is not defined by our love for Him. This is a crucial truth. We innately believe that God loves us because we are either lovable, or have shown Him enough “love” to cause Him to love us back. This is the antithesis of love, actually. We despise the cross of God, His ultimate act of love, by even acting like the brutality of the cross, in its entirety, was not necessary for our salvation in total. Basically, we bring nothing good, or loving, to the table.
Love is shown in the fact that God loves us…broken, fallen, enemy…us. And this love is shown in Christ’s propitiatory work. This “Bible” word, propitiation, simply means atonement, but particularly atoning in satisfying God’s wrath. This means that we deserved the death that Christ bore, and if we are to know love we must first completely own up to this fact. Therefore, we DO NOT own up to His atoning work if we feel that any portion of ourselves doesn’t need atonement. His love is total, sufficient…totally sufficient!
So, if we are His people, atoned for and made righteous before God, then we ought to love others who have been atoned for as well. However, to love what God loves isn’t bound only to the redeemed, but also the lost world. We know that God hates sin, and even despises some sinners (Romans 9:13), but His love is displayed to the lost world in Christ’s atoning work, and that work is on display in the love the redeemed in Christ have for one another.
Do you notice what John says in verse 12 above? ”No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” Astounding, really. There is an evangelistic apologetic in our love for the body of Christ. In a sense, the gospel becomes incarnational when the church noticeably loves one another. The world doesn’t see God, but the world can see the evidence of God’s existence in our mutual love. This is no surprise, John already recorded this theme in his gospel letter…
When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
(John 13:31-35 ESV)
Look, I know love is hard. I’m a pastor and I’m supposed to either be natural at this sort of thing, or at least taught how to do it in seminary. No. It’s a struggle. I tend to love others more than it seems, yet if that’s true then every effort would be made to make sure love is known. This isn’t about “people pleasing” but it is about God’s pleasure. Let us seek to work love out in our midst so that the glory of God is seen and felt in our midst, and evidence of His existence supported by our unusually redemptive love for one another.
Make it your aim this week to find one tangible way to love someone in the church, not to gain God’s favor, but to put on display His love for you for His sake!
In a recent membership class (Discovery Class), I was sharing about UBC’s vision to reach college students with particular enthusiasm for the construction I see out my window daily of a fairly significant student housing project.
In my enthusiasm, I channeled the ole hood I grew up in and said, “We’ve got students all up in our missional grill.” Now, for those not acclimated to such colloquialisms it simply means that students are in our face and we need to choose to see the opportunity as nothing less than missional.
This year, UBC celebrates 60 years on this hill. There have been times of reaping, harvesting, blessing, and difficulty. The church has gone through changes to more deeply understand that her identity is not in brick in mortar, or a street address. I often tell church planters to be prepared for the day they put up a mailbox. Things change. Our tendency is to overly identify with buildings and, oddly enough, cease to identify with the community where that building resides.
UBC is a church for university students. We should leverage our resources, goods, even our livelihoods to reach students. We need the blessed inconvenience of housing international students in our homes. We need to consider selling our homes and moving downtown into one of these new complexes. At the least we should (must) pray. Every time you see construction or are inconvenienced with parking, we need to pray for students and our willingness to be laborers in field of this campus.
For any of you not in our midst, but connected to UBC. Pray for us. Pray that we remain staunch in our proclamation of truth and consistent in our application of truth. Pray that we stay simple and focused on why we are here. Pray that God would raise up an army of church members, including college students, to see faculty and students from spiritual eyes. Pray with me, as well, that out of the sea of believing students, God would raise up and call out young men to be pastors and that UBC would be positioned in every way to train them up. Perhaps, by God’s grace, I will help raise up my replacement in His time.
From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
(2 Corinthians 5:16-21 ESV)