Belong, Believe, Become
In Jesus ministry He invited everyone to come and follow Him. He didn’t require that you believe in Him first. In fact, His own disciples were unsure of Him to start with.1 It took about 3 years of close knit relationship and discipling for them to come to the conclusion that He indeed was the promised messiah come into the world.2 Even after they believed and confessed that He was the Son of God, they all turned their backs on Him and fled when he was hauled away by the chief priests and tried by the court.3 Yet His message to them was “follow me.” In our modern vernacular I think the way to understand this is, whether you believe in Him as the saviour of the world or not, you belong. Bring your questions, your concerns, your doubts and your hopes. Let’s see what Jesus will do with them. We want you to know that you belong. Whether it’s for a short time with us or for the long haul, we’re glad you’re with us.
Eventually, if you don’t already know Him, we hope you will believe: That you will come to the knowledge that He came into the world5, remained unencumbered by evil6, was sentenced to death as an innocent man7 and was raised to life8 again so that you could be intimately and permanently connected to Our Heavenly Father. We hope that you will experience His loving kindness and His healing power for you personally9, that you will see His mighty works that He does for everyone in our community10, that you would experience forgiveness for yourself and others, and that you see the relationships in your life reconciled.11
As you come to believe, you will then get to become like Jesus!12 That’s the promise Jesus made to His disciples.13 It was the expectation of every 1st century disciple to become like his rabbi, his teacher.14 In everything Jesus did He modeled for us perfect moment by moment loving obedience borne out of His relationship with the Father. He only did what the Father was doing. He only said what the Father was saying. He explained that He and the Father are one.15 They have a perfect connection in their relationship. Jesus died and rose again for this express purpose to pass to us His own legacy: a perfect connection with Our Heavenly Father! We are now made one with Him through the gift of the Holy Spirit.16 We get to do whatever the Father is doing! We get to say whatever the Father is saying! The Father has made His home with us.17 Now we get to become like our rabbi, we get to become just like Jesus.
We believe that Jesus empowers the local church as one of the primary places where we get to experience becoming like Jesus with the help of the community of other followers of Jesus.18 We get to engage in the New Commandment19 that Jesus gave His disciples during the passover dinner before his trial and crucifixion. He told them to love one another just as He loved them. We’re told this is the way in which all people will know that we follow Jesus if we love each other well. It seems that if we love each other well, in spite of our differences and brokenness,20 those who don’t yet know Jesus will consider that kind of love something to become.