A friend of mine, Ryan Hendrickson, sent me a cool and encouraging email and asked me a great question, “So where does this offramp exit onto?” In conversations about this new Christian community or church plant or whatever we want to call it, I’ve been intentionally using the word “exploration.” That’s because we really don’t know what the destination is going to look like exactly.
In some ways, what we are doing is similar to having a baby. You have certain assumptions, goals, and dreams, but that “little bundle of joy” seems to have a mind and personality of its own. Raising a child is a journey, an exploration. It’s not about reaching a destination. Think about it. When are you done being a parent? Even when little junior or juniorette grows up, you’re still being formed as a parent.
But I ramble… So where is the off-ramp leading us to? I don’t know the destination, but I have some assumptions about the exploration. First, we will discover that life as apprentices of Jesus and ambassadors of his kingdom is a lifelong journey of formation. In other words, the journey is as important, if not more, as the destination itself. Life is about becoming someone. It’s about journeying with Jesus from the image of God to the likeness and fullness of God. It’s about becoming people who naturally, easily and routinely embody, demonstrate and announce the fullness of God on earth. It’s about joining and cooperating with Jesus’ revolution in ultimately bringing all of creation, humanity, cultures and societies to become the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven.
Second, we will discover that God’s dream for his people is to truly embody the fullness of God. When Jesus said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9), it was as much a statement about his humanity as it was his divinity. In other words, God’s dream for us is that we too could say, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” This means learning how to “participate in the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4) so “that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19). This goes far beyond “What Would Jesus Do?” When we embody the fullness of God, we rarely have to ask that question since we live as Jesus would if he were in our place.
Third, we will discover that life is holistic. Our modern Christian worldview makes natural/supernatural or physical/spiritual distinctions. However, those distinctions are not biblical. According to the Bible, all of life is from God. Psalm 33:5-6 says, “The earth is full of his unfailing love. By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.” Although God is completely separate from his creation, he chooses to fill every aspect of his creation with his love and presence. In our journey, we will explore what it really means when we say that Jesus is the master of life. Just like a master violinist can take the elements of wood, wire and horsehair to make the most beautiful music, Jesus takes the raw elements of life (skin, bone, blood, thoughts, emotions, deeds, relationships, waking, sleeping, eating, walking, working, space, time, etc.) and makes the most beautiful music with them. Every part of life is important to God. Therefore, the Christian life is more than just being forgiven of sins. It’s involving all of the raw materials of life to elicit the melodious harmonies of grace, justice, mercy, love, compassion, and righteousness.
Fourth, we will discover organic community. Jesus’ life, teaching, death, resurrection, ascension and future intentions for all of creation and humanity form a new community. The church is the people, not the organization. Therefore, we will be exploring a more organic form of community, not one that is derived from a business management or military hierarchical model. It is a community of prayerful love where every relationship is mediated through Christ by the Spirit of love. In this organic community, we will learn from each other as Christ in you teaches me and Christ in me teaches you. It is a community of sojourners in a new life. Leadership exists in this community, but it is relational and shared by those recognized by the community to lead from within the community.
Ultimately, this off-ramp will take us on a different journey than where we were going. And that journey will be experienced in three ways. There will be the inward journey — doing whatever it takes to enter into and engage God’s kingdom in all of life so that we become the fullness of God in our daily lives. There will be the outward journey — doing whatever it takes to embody and bear God’s life to the world in winsome and relevant ways. There will be the corporate journey — doing whatever it takes to experience this together in a community of prayerful love.
In the days to come, we will make some articles available that will attempt to explain what we want to accomplish in more detail.