After reviewing the message notes, let’s all take some time to prayerfully read and reflect on the following statement that describes what we at New Hope believe is God’s design for us as we relate together. If possible, read this aloud with someone else or a group and then discuss the implications of what living this out could mean to you, your family, friends, community and our nation. We are God’s vehicle for showing and sharing His love. Let’s do it well!
What we believe about people at New Hope Church:
In the Bible, God gives us clear guiding principles for understanding ourselves and others. Human beings are unique in all of creation because we are created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26-27). This means we reflect aspects of His nature unlike anything else in the world. There is great beauty in this aspect of our lives. There is another side to us, though – we are all damaged by sin (Romans 3:23), wanting to live independently of God to have our own way. The result of our sin is that we dishonor our Creator and mistreat each other. Without help, we are without hope. This is why God sent His Son to rescue and save us (Isaiah 53:6).
New Hope’s mission is simple, “To help all people become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ”. All humans are created in God’s likeness, regardless of their sex, language, skin color or socioeconomic status. With this understanding, we want to do everything we can to help all people understand how much God loves them and wants a personal relationship with each of them. Jesus made this mission clear. 18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20 (NLT) The word nations is the Greek word ethnos, which means all people groups everywhere. As we are faithful to pursue our Godgiven mandate, our church will become a diverse community of people with various backgrounds and ethnicities, who are now brothers and sisters in God’s great family. As this community grows close to God and each other, it should be characterized by love, respect, honor and humble service to all as equals (Galatians 3:26-28).
Because we tend to let our differences divide rather than develop our community, we need to work hard at building unity and intercepting anything that can cause dis-unity. In fact, the word community is a reminder of how we can do this. As followers of Jesus, we have two important things in common – we are all created in God’s image and we have been reborn into His family through accepting Christ as our Savior and leader. These realities are the foundation for building closeness and unity. As we build relationships with each other in Jesus’ family, His church, we choose to let our differences and diversity strengthen rather than separate us. Because God created humankind with diversity, historic and contemporary issues will most likely impact us differently. This includes, but is not limited to, matters of oppression, discrimination and favoritism. Our goal is to acknowledge and address these issues, not to ignore or dismiss them. Our intent is to build a healthy community under the lordship of Jesus Christ, and from there be a positive influence in all our spheres of influence for His glory and the benefit of others. This will create a taste of what life will be like when history wraps up and we are in heaven, 9 After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. 10 And they were shouting with a mighty shout, “Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne and from the Lamb!” Revelation 7:9-10 (NLT)
Another aspect of building this kind of community together is to be an example of God’s good design to a watching world. Jesus makes this very clear, 34 “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:34-35 (NLT) and also, “In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” Matthew 5:16 (NLT)
We want to be a church that honors God in all we do, and to that end, we will work to build a community that reflects God’s heart and shows it in how we value, respect, honor and love all people.