As a church we're persuaded from the Bible that we're to explore, experience and express the goodness of God across our city. From a preaching perspective we work through different books of the Bible and seek to hear the good news of Jesus in the language and emphases of those books.
Exploring, experiencing and expressing God's goodness isn't a set of three mutually exclusive categories but inevitably some terms we're more generally addressing our UP-ward relationship with God, sometimes our IN-ward experience of church, or our OUT-ward experience of life in our city.
That means each term has a different feel. In the autumn we were unpacking Galatians, exploring the character of relationship with God with his people. We called this 'You are always welcome'. Over Christmas we considered the incarnation and its implications for life in this world, 'One of us'.
This term we've been in Genesis 1-4 considering the foundations of all things 'I love my city', and God's big story which runs from the garden to the city to fill this world with his goodness so it can be his home with all who trust in Christ.
Download the final sermon in this series: I love my city - everything with him.
We wak in this series thoroughly in the tradition of the Dutch Reformed churches, people like Abraham Kuyper who argued that Jesus stakes his claim on every square inch of his world. We stand on the shoulders of rigorous thinkers such as John Dyer, Don Carson, Andy Crouch, Tim Keller, David Stroud, Jon Tyson, Os Guinness, Francis Schaeffer and L'Abri Fellowship and others who have taught us that the Christian story is of the renewal of all things through substitutionary atonement in Jesus.
I've loved the way this has widened my eyes to see what God is doing in this world, in his world.
Personal salvation and personal piety are unspeakably wonderful. Our story is never to be less than that, but it must be more. Its not that I'm the type or am inclined to a wider vision - a small salvation suits me nicely, but it falls short of a Biblical view of the gospel of Jesus.
As Evan Koons says in a highly-rated resource we've been making use of, we need to ask:
What is our salvation for? For the life of the world.
In Genesis we allowed ourselves to paint the picture. A rich canvas of purple one week, green the next, and then blue and so on. Optimistic and idealistic in Genesis 1-2, realistic, bleak and deeply hopeful in Genesis 3-4 as we engage with human betrayal of God, curse, sin, alienation, vengeance and more. And in the darkest moments, there is the Triune God seeking people.
As we go forward I feel that we have a rich opportunity to pursue a grassroots initiatives in community across our city, sharing 'life on life'. We can back local relief agencies and partner with others - such as Foodbank, YMCA, CAP. We can seek to value the vocations of people - called to join God in the renewal of all things through business and retail, education and health care, academia and customer service and more. And we can seek to resource those - particularly at our local University - who may wield great influence for good in society in their graduate lives.
We'll either represent Christ in those places or something else - the gospel has application to every part of life.
In each area can we do that with an eye to the bigger picture and the deeper mystery of faith.
Next up we're in 1 Peter, 'Everyday Church' - what's so special about church, why and how should we do church in today's society.... I'm excited at the prospect of growing as a loving family together.