It takes discipline and self-sacrifice on the part of individuals for us as a whole to become “a community of spiritually empowered people” as stated in our church vision. As spiritual people, we are called to think more about the eternal consequences of our words and deeds.
Greg reminded us of what makes us who we are as a local expression of the Body of Christ. We are called by God to fulfill this vision:
To be a community of spiritually empowered people
Who reflect God’s love and advance God’s Kingdom
In St. Paul and the surrounding area
And to the world as the Lord leads
Working hand in hand with other expressions of the Body of Christ
Until all have reached fullness in Christ
Our vision statement is a concrete expression of the call God has for the worldwide Church. This larger mission is found in the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. We put it together like this in our mission statement:
To advance the Kingdom of God
against the kingdom of darkness;
By loving God,
By embodying God’s love for each other,
And by proclaiming God’s love to the world.
A central part of this week’s message was that in order for us to function as a body that is called in this way, we must be personally committed to seeking God in our own individual lives. He highlighted the first line of the vision above as the focus for the next few weeks. It takes discipline and self-sacrifice on the part of individuals for us as a whole to become “ a community of spiritually empowered people.”
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The Christian life is often quite the opposite of what we otherwise would be inclined to do. We are inclined to attend to our circumstances, to care most about things that will not last eternally, to spend time working on projects that do not build the Kingdom. This is where the distinction between the “inner” and the “outer” comes in handy. As spiritual people, Christians are called to think more about the eternal consequences of their words and deeds. Our hearts should automatically move to questions like: does this serve God? Is Love expressed? Am I honoring God’s desire for justice? Do I care for those who are burdened?
Since none of us live like this consistently, we should first of all honestly confess this to ourselves and to God. Then we will have the grace to move in the right direction. That direction is first inward. We need to be cultivating our spirits to be obedient to God. It does not happen automatically! Greg reminded us of Dallas Willard’s acronym “VIM” which stands for Vision, Intention, and Means. A vision is something that captures the goal, the destination that is set before us, both as individuals and as a church body. Vision in the individual sense is what we are addressing first. What does God know about you and your future that you are not yet thinking about? When God looks at you, what do you think you look like? Rest assured, God sees all the things that you are able to participate in as we build the Kingdom of God. This is one reason it is so important to spend time in prayer! So that you might see yourself and the world the way God does. As this happens, you will gain clarity on who you are created to be and what kind of gift God has made you for this world. That’s right, YOU are a gift that God has given to the world! Ask God to give you a vision for that.
The next step is simply to accept this vision as your own and decide that it is first priority. Nothing should stand in the way of you becoming what God has called you to be. Make that decision and then be open to rearranging things in your life as necessary so that that vision can come to pass.
Of course, the last step then is to begin rearranging your life around the vision God has given you for your life. One of the main things to consider here is simply to assure that your relationship with God remains fully intact and the communication lines are truly open! If God is going to lead you into great things you need to be available to God for guidance! Greg described this as surrendering the outer self on the one hand and feeding the inner self on the other.