This is our two-part vision at Central. Transformation and mission, discipleship and ministry. Being formed into the image of Jesus in order to bless those outside ourselves. Paying close attention to what God is doing in us and what he is doing through us. We’re committed to it here. We believe in it. We’re sold on the truth that the more we think like Jesus, the more we talk like Jesus and act like Jesus, the more we behave and respond like our Lord, the more naturally we’ll come to consider the needs of others more important than our own. The more we’ll sacrifice for others and serve others and show the love and grace of God to others.
That is not the goal of other institutions. That’s not what the schools are doing. That’s not what your neighborhood Property Owners Association is doing. That’s not the government’s vision. And it’s not the goal of Apple, Fox News, or the Texas Rangers. Becoming Like Christ for the Sake of __________ is only the mission of the Church. Disciples of Jesus are the only ones committed to this vision. In fact, this Gospel vision actually opposes the vision of most all other worldly establishments. This vision makes us an alternative community. We’re the oddballs, the weirdos. We stick out. What we’re committed to as a group doesn’t make sense to the world.
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters — yes, even his own life! — he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” ~Luke 14:26-27
We’re called by Jesus to break free from all the ties of society, he wants us to shake loose from this world’s way of thinking and doing so we can live in this radically new kind of life as a follower of Jesus.
And we do it together.
As disciples, we’re called to forgive others as Jesus forgave us. That means we have to forgive everybody, even people who hate us and want to do us harm. We’re called to suffer and serve instead of use our power and influence to get our way. We’re told to give up our freedom and rights, not fight to preserve them. We’re called to turn the other cheek, to walk the extra mile, to willingly die to ourselves every day. And that is so opposite of what everybody in the world besides Jesus is saying, that we can’t do this by ourselves. We have to do it together.
That’s Church. That’s us. Together. Committed to his vision of Becoming Like Christ for the Sake of __________.
This world, especially our culture here in the West, has no use for a philosophy or a position that puts others first. David Hume, the Enlightenment Age philosopher who was so influential in the mid 1700’s during the forming of the United States, wrote and spoke continually about the age of reason and logic, the age of the individual. This sample is from his Enquiry Into Morals:
“Fasting, penance, self-denial, humility, sacrifice, silence, solitude, and the whole train of monkish virtues — they are rejected everywhere by men of sense because they serve no manner of purpose. They do not advance a man’s fortune in the world, nor render him a more valuable member of society. They don’t aid him in entertaining company nor increase his power of self enjoyment. We observe, on the contrary, that they all oppose these desirable ends. These practices stupefy the understanding and harden the heart, obscure the fancy, and sour the temper.”
According to Hume and the foundational thoughts that formed this country, the highest purpose of human life is happiness and the well-being of the individual. Everything that might distract from that happiness or compromise that well-being has to be avoided.
Picking up a cross and becoming like Christ makes no sense to our world. It’s incomprehensible. Being crucified with Christ doesn’t compute. Losing your life for the sake of the Gospel sounds silly. But for children of God and disciples of Jesus, this is our calling.