Vision Refreshed: A Gospel-Shaped Community
August 22, 2019 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
“Vision,” technically defined by experts in church leadership, is a statement of who we believe God is forming us to be. It is directional. Vision points to where we are going. And, as Christians, it points to something that can never be completed in this life. We are always moving in that direction.
But we get distracted. We become forgetful. Our hearts become divided and other “visions” for what we can be become attractive. We need regular reminders that Christ has redeemed us, that we are united to Christ; that Christ is forming and shaping us into the people he wants us to be; that Christ is the Lord of our lives.
Jesus Christ “casts” the vision for believers. Have you ever asked what is Christ’s vision for you and for the church?
In our bulletin, we print a brief summary of Christ’s vision for the church, our church. We print:
“In everything we do, we aim to unpack the greatness and implications of the gospel. In this gospel we encounter two powerful truths that shape our entire lives and relationship with God: we are more sinful and flawed than we ever dared believe, and we are more accepted and loved than we ever dared hope. Our prayer is that these gospel truths would shape us into a community and fellowship worth joining.”
Our mission (what God calls us to do) is stated first: “unpack the greatness and implications of the gospel.” This is just another way of saying “we long to know and make known the astonishing grace of God.” The church is God’s appointed means to proclaim the gospel in this world. We are “salt of the earth” and “light of the world.” He calls the leaders in the church to “preach the Word.” We are to “make disciples” through gospel proclamation.
Christ does not only give the church her marching orders, but he also paints a beautiful picture of where the gospel is leading his people. This is vision. In our bulletin, we summarize this vision by stating, “Our prayer is that these gospel truths would shape us into a community and fellowship worth joining.” There are many more, Scriptural ways to articulate Christ’s vision for his church. Let me expand, however, on what we highlight in this statement.
- The Gospel is Shaping Us. The Gospel is a declaration of the Good News that Christ died for our sins. The Good News includes, however, so much more than a declaration. There is transformation (2 Cor. 5:17) and promises of future renewal and restoration (Rom. 8:30). God, by his grace, is shaping us more and more to be like his Son (2 Cor. 3:18). The Gospel, and we who believe in the Gospel, is not static.
- The Gospel Shapes a Community. In our hyper-individualistic culture, we have a tendency to think about our relationship with God without reference to others or the church. It’s me and Jesus. What God has accomplished through Christ, however, is for the church as a united body. By his grace, God is “building up the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:12). The more mature we become in our faith, the more connected with the church we ought to become. The more connected with the church we become, the more mature in our faith we will become.
- The Gospel Shapes Us into a Refuge for a Hurting and Broken World. “The wages of sin is death.” Whether this is acknowledged or not, every person suffers under this “curse.” The hope of Jesus Christ proclaimed in the gospel is the only remedy for the curse. A community of believers who have found that hope and relief in Christ becomes public testimony of the goodness of Christ. This community is not surprised by sin and the brokenness it causes. This community is quick to love others and quick to forgive offenses. This community is long-suffering with those who may be unfaithful. This community is different from any other community found in this world. And we cannot take credit for this. God is forming us into this kind of community through the gospel. It is his work.
That is Christ’s vision for us. I invite you to pray with me that God would continue to do this work among us through the Gospel. Refresh your commitment to the Gospel and what God desires to do with you as you trust Christ.