At every level of leadership (from parenting to running a business), one of the most pressing questions we always need to be able to answer is: "Why?" Sure, we may be able to require action for a time by simply asserting authority, but the kind of leadership that creates culture & movement instead of begrudging compliance requires that we lead through influence. And influence is only ever built on the foundation of respect, which we must earn: not by demanding obedience to WHAT we want done, but by inviting others into WHY we're doing it so they can get excited and champion the cause with us!
If you're involved in church leadership at any level, then you've been asked "why" in a hundred different ways:
No doubt, you could add to this list. But no matter how the long it gets, when we boil it down we're really just talking about variations on one simple question: "Why the church?" And this is the question we must answer if we want to earn the respect of a new generation and lead not just with authority from God, but also with influence like Jesus.
Thankfully, the Holy Spirit hasn't left us to figure this out for ourselves! In fact, the book of Acts is, among many things, an answer to this very question. As you consider God's answer to the question: "Why the church?" my hope is that you will grow in confidence in His purposes and humility that you get to be a part of them!
WHY THE CHURCH?
Family Discipleship requires intentional time set aside where we, as parents, pursue our children's hearts. As you take this step with your kids, we recommend the following questions to help you draw them out and relate to them in the things that matter most.
What joys can we share?
What questions can we answer?
What wisdom can we offer?
What struggles can we pray for?
If we faithfully, consistently, honestly, and genuinely ask these questions and cultivate openness and expectation surrounding these conversations, by God's grace it will produce rich, meaningful, lifelong discipleship relationships with our kids.
When Martin Luther said that “Jesus Christ willed...the entire life of believers to be one of repentance,” he was pleading with all who would listen to see and hate our sin as God does. More than that, he was trying to help us understand that the grace Jesus bought for us at the cross is always enough. If we define repentance as “turning our back to sin and our face to God,” then the question we need to ask is: “How do I do that?” And the answer, very simply, is by the grace of Jesus.
As Christians, we would all agree with that statement, but do you really live like it’s true when you’re confronted with sin in your own life? When you sin, do you tend to run away from God in guilt or run to God for grace? If you tend to run away from Him in guilt, shame, or fear, then you need to ask an even deeper question: What do you believe is at stake when you sin: God’s delight in you or your delight in God?
The more we understand that the love, delight, acceptance, and favor of God is based on Jesus and His work for us and not on our work for Him, the more we’re set free to run to God when we sin, desperate for the grace that only He can give and confident that He has already given us all we need in Jesus.
Repentance then, at its core, is a relational act. It isn’t a transaction by which we earn acceptance, salvation, or forgiveness; that’s all been done already by Jesus in His death and resurrection! Rather, it’s the restoration of our relationship with God that our sin has kept us from rejoicing in. In other words, we repent because we want more of God Himself and our sin is keeping us from experiencing the joy, life, peace, and rest in Him that Jesus died to give us!
Once we begin to see this, repentance becomes a blessing instead of a burden because, as sinners, it is our surest path to true and lasting joy in our relationship with Jesus. But what should this kind of repentance look like?
Step 1 | Be Honest (1 Corinthians 11:28; 2 Corinthians 13:5)
If we want to grow in knowing, loving, & following Jesus, we must be committed to living according to His Word. All true repentance begins with honest, deep, Biblical self-evaluation rather than a quick check of cultural and church norms or comparing oneself to others.
Step 2 | Be Humble (Luke 18:9-14; James 5:16; 1 John 1:9)
If the Bible is true then sin should never catch us by surprise. Therefore we should be quick to doubt ourselves rather than scared of being “found out” as a sinner in need of grace. As this happens, we will be set free from self-protection and self-promotion, and we will be driven to confess our sins as Scripture commands because we have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Step 3 | Be Hopeful (2 Corinthians 12:9, Colossians 2:13-15)
We can only be honest and humble if we know that the grace of our God will be enough to bear the full weight of our sin. Therefore we must cultivate a deep, rich understanding of this grace by remembering what God has done for us in Jesus, resting in the promises of His Word, relying on the work of His Spirit, and rejoicing in the truth that God’s grace is power.
Step 4 | Be Happy (2 Corinthians 1:20; Galatians 5:1; 2 Peter 1:3-4)
If repentance does not lead to joy then it is not true repentance. As mentioned above, repentance is the process through which we, as sinners, are restored to right relationship with our strong and beautiful God. And because our God is stronger than anything we fear and more beautiful than any temptation we face, we can live in freedom and joy only when we find that life in Him! We don’t repent to get God’s blessings, God’s forgiveness, God’s favor, God’s love, or God’s grace. We repent to get more of God! And when we do, He is faithful to give us all that we need.
What are we building? That's the question every church planter and pastor has to ask if we want to be a part of the universal and eternal empire of Jesus instead of crafting monuments to our own abilities that are destined for nothing but dust and ashes.
But if we want to follow Jesus in simple, mountain-moving faith...if we want to build on the foundation of Jesus Christ with the gold and silver of the gospel instead of the wood and straw of our best ideas (1 Corinthians 3:10-13)...then we have to offer God's people exactly what Jesus did: Culture & Movement.
What did Jesus invite people to? Healing? Miracles? Hope? Forgiveness? Acceptance? Joy? Authority? Each one of these was part of it, but none of them captures the essence. When you look deeper, what you begin to realize is that each of these is serving a greater purpose: the kingdom of God. Over 100 times in the gospels, Jesus returns to this central idea because it's the reason He came! As He said in Luke 4:43, "I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God...for I was sent for this purpose."
So what was the culture of the kingdom that Jesus came to build? What exactly was He inviting people into? Even a brief overview of the gospel of Matthew yields rich results. Jesus invited people into:
When Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount, He was preaching as the Reigning King telling us how to live faithfully as His subjects. When Jesus called all who were weak and tired to come to Him for rest (Matthew 11:28), He was inviting us as a Gracious King to the joy that can only come from full surrender to Him. And when Jesus went to the cross, He died as a Sacrificing King, laying down His life to set His people free. This is the culture of the kingdom of Jesus, and this is what He invites all people into.
But why? Maybe it shouldn't surprise us that the answer, again, is the kingdom of God. As Matthew concludes his gospel, it becomes clear that Jesus didn't just want to invite His disciples into His kingdom...He wanted to inspire them to go and be a part of building it with Him! This is why He said in Matthew 28:18 that "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me." This clear, powerful claim to divine Kingship was both:
But if the kingdom of Christ has in any way become second to your own kingdom, plans, and dreams, then may you follow our King in repentance and faith, trusting His grace for forgiveness and vision as you ask:
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