It has been made clear through our study of the gospel of John that we are a sent people. Jesus was sent to save us and now we are sent as disciple makers to proclaim the good news of Jesus to the world around us. This is commanded for all believers everywhere. The question for us is not if we will do this, but how we will seek to do this well in our context. In 2018, we have said that the way we are going to seek to do this well is to Abide and Advance. Here is what we mean:
First, we are to abide in Christ. Jesus tells us in John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” The ESV study bible says about this verse, “abide in me” means to continue in a daily, personal relationship with Jesus, characterized by trust, prayer, obedience, and joy.” If we are to bear any fruit or do anything, we must be abiding in Christ. We must remain in this daily, personal, growing relationship with Christ. The King of the universe is inviting you to spend regular time with Him in your everyday life. There are at least three ways we are seeking to abide in Christ as a church:
- Prayer – We are completely dependent people. And, as Christians, we have received the gift of God, the Holy Spirit, to dwell within us. Prayer, among other things, reminds us that we are needy and dependent on God for everything. Have consistent, regular times set aside for prayer and fasting in your regular life rhythms. Pray regularly throughout your day. As a church, we are praying corporately together on the first Sunday of every month at 8:30am before our worship gatherings. Come on and join us. A portion of our weekly community group gathering time is devoted to prayer. Stay plugged in to one of them and pray regularly with your siblings in Christ. When led by the Spirit, we will pray and fast together as a church for specific things like when we adopted a Love Life week earlier this month.
- Remaining in God’s Word – There is no substitute for the regular reading and studying of God’s word. It is alive and powerful showing us who God is and who we are in light of Him. We grow in intimacy with Christ through remaining regularly in His word. My wife and I stay connected by spending regular, quality time together. Similarly, we must spend regular, quality time with God in His word in order to abide in Him. We will offer both men’s and women’s bible studies later this year. Prioritize and participate in those.
- Obedience to God’s Word – Jesus says in John 15:10, “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.” As we obey Christ, we will abide in His love. We obey Christ as a response to His perfect obedience to the Father. He obeyed perfectly and died as our substitute on the cross and then rose again victorious. Now, because of this good news, we are able to obey. Obedience to Christ and all He calls us to will cause us to turn to Him for strength and power. His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30). If we are to obey Him, it will require us abiding in Him. So, we will continue to seek to bring God glory in all we do by loving Him above all else, serving faithfully, giving generously, fighting sin ferociously, and living as a redeemed family in community on mission together as the people of God at Exodus.
Not only are we to abide in Christ, we are to advance the name of Christ to the ends of the earth starting with our neighbors, coworkers, friends, enemies, and family members. Jesus says in the high priestly prayer in John 17:18, “As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.” Jesus said in John 15, that abiding leads to fruit bearing (John 15:2, 4-5, 7-8). Fruit for the Christian is that the name of Jesus is proclaimed and that many more people believe in and trust in Him through the power of the gospel. We get to be a part of this in the world. God invites us to be active participants in His Kingdom advancing into the hearts of a diverse people from every tribe, tongue, and nation. Exodus gathers in a very diverse area. We pray and desire to see the name of Christ advanced through Exodus as He grows us into a more diverse family living in community on mission together. We are seeking to advance the name of Christ at Exodus in three specific ways throughout 2018:
- Practice – We want to regularly speak the gospel to one another. This will take place primarily within our community groups. So, the hope for all of our problems and struggles is the good news that Christ died in our place for our sin. We want to communicate this hope to one another often. We will also offer evangelism classes this year to help equip you to share the gospel in relationships and conversations in your everyday lives.
- Proclamation – Yes, a Christian’s life should shine bright with the light of the gospel. And, Romans 10:14-15 makes is very clear that we are also to proclaim the gospel with our words. So, we want to do that faithfully and in the power of the Holy Spirit. In 2018, we have asked for every person who calls Exodus home to invite one person per week into their life with intentionality. So, either invite them to a Sunday worship gathering or a community group gathering or into your home for a meal where you plan to build relationships that will include intentional conversations with them about the gospel. We also have asked each person that calls Exodus home to share the gospel at least once a month with someone. God has called us and equipped us for this. Pray for opportunities and boldness and then obey and trust Christ as you share. If we do this, even as a small church, we will have thousands of intentional invitations and gospel conversations this year. And we are trusting God to provide fruit from all of this.
- Persistence – We all know that fad diets are not helpful (if you didn’t know, now you do). If we want real change in our physical health, it must be a lifestyle change. This is true of our spiritual lives as well. Because Jesus was and remains persistent in His pursuit of His people, we want to remain persistent in our pursuit of advancing His great name to the ends of the earth beginning in our homes, backyards, offices, coffee shops, barber shops, restaurants, gyms, and other regular gathering places. Jesus has made it clear that it will not be easy and that we can expect push-back and persecution. However, Jesus is always worth it. He has given us all we need. He pursued us persistently. He still does. If we are to advance His Name in our city and to the ends of the earth, we must follow His lead. We must be persistent and intentional in sharing the good news of Christ with the people God places in our everyday lives. And when we blow it, He will pursue us with gracious persistence. And this amazing grace is our fuel to remain persistent as we seek to advance His Kingdom.
Exodus, let’s be a people who abide in Christ and advance His Kingdom. He has given us all we need. He is worth all of our lives. Because of Him, greater things are yet to come.