What Are You Willing to Die For?
It has been said that “the man who is not willing to die for something is not fit to live for anything.” In order to really live, we must be willing to die for something. But we must also recognize that just because we are willing to die for something, does not mean that we need to be willing to die for everything.
As Christians, we must remember that we ultimately are fighting for something, not against something. In short, we are striving for the glory of God and the salvation of His people. Therefore, we keep our list short of the things we are willing to die for. These include: the authority of scripture, the unity of believers, the quality of ministry and the intentionality of mission.
The Authority of Scripture
We affirm that the Bible is the first and final authority on all matters of faith and practice in the lives of believers. Therefore, when matters of belief and practice in the life of the believer and the church arise, we look to the Bible before we look anywhere else.
Psalm 119:105 says that “Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” God’s word gives us clarity in life’s biggest challenges.
Wesley is often credited with a decision-making quadrilateral that included scripture, tradition, reason and experience. Although all four factors are considered in the decision-making process, scripture should be the starting and the ending point. God’s people are most blessed when we individually and corporately recognize and submit to the scriptures as the final authority in our lives. At Hope Church, the commitment to scriptures is demonstrated by our commitment to biblical teaching in the pulpit and in each of our community groups at each age level. Community groups are designed to increase the knowledge of God in our lives so that we can walk confidently in His will individually and in community with one another.
The Unity of Believers
John 17 describes one of the final prayers of Jesus for His disciples. It is notable that Jesus don not pray that the disciples would be great missionaries, effective leaders, or even successful healers, but rather that they would be one. Jesus knew that unity was so important that he spent his final hours praying for it.
I have heard it said recently that “unity must be constantly pursued.” Unity most often is achieved not when we are in agreement with one another, but when each of us are united with Christ. A. W. Tozer noted that one thousand pianos tuned to the same fork, are naturally tuned to one another. We achieve unity when are each genuinely focuses on what God wants, rather than what we want.
When believers are unified, God is glorified. Therefore, we go out of our way in order to protect the unity of our congregation. We are committed to think the best of others, refuse to speak (and listen to) gossip, and always treat others as if they were Jesus Himself. Though we may disagree about something, we resolve to not be disagreeable.
The Quality of Ministry
We affirm that excellence is doing the best that we can, where we are with what we have. Though we may strive for perfection, we settle for excellence. We believe that God is worthy of our best efforts and attitudes. The Father did not spare anything when He sent Christ on our behalf. Therefore, we are reminded that “whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.”
We are called to do all things with excellence as unto the Lord. At Hope Church, we define excellence as “doing the best you can with what you have.”
The Intentionality of Mission
Just before Jesus ascended into heaven, He gave His final instructions to His disciples to “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” The mission of the church, the purpose for our existence, is to make disciples and baptize and teach believers. I pray that we will do no less than what Christ has called us to do, and no more either. Mission is a single-minded focus. We want to reconcile people to God.
As long as we are committed to the authority of scripture, the unity of believers, excellence in ministry and our missional mandate, we can rest assured that we will continually looking upward, reaching outward and striving onward.