Written by Peter Blanch
One of the things that we keep seeing in the book of Acts is just how big Jesus is. In the opening chapters of this book, the greatness of Jesus is highlighted over and over again in the speeches of the apostle Peter. Peter says, that from the human side of things, Jesus is a man accredited by God, whom death could not hold; He is the King [lord] of King David, the one like Moses that God had promised. Jesus’ divinity is also emphasised when Peter declares that Jesus is the Author of life, God in the flesh, raised to sit at God’s right hand to rule the whole universe, and the only name by which we might be saved. Peter longs that we would know that our lives are not about us and our greatness – but about Jesus and His glory. And so Peter keeps calling on his listeners to respond to Jesus by changing their hearts and minds [repentance] and turning to follow and live for Jesus [faith]. It is passages like this [and many others in the Bible] that inform our vision as a church – “Growing Together in Christ for God’s Glory”. I thought I might spend some time in this FFT reflecting on our vision and how it shapes us as a family of believers.
Firstly, in aiming to grow together in Christ for God’s glory, we count it an absolute privilege that God would enable ordinary people like us to partner with Him in building His Kingdom. It means that we are a people jealous for God’s honour and we are convicted that He has the right to be glorified everywhere, including in this part of His world that we live in. And so we as a church family are committed to serving Wagga Wagga and the surrounding regions by sharing our Lord and Saviour as the only way of salvation.
We desire to help those who are stumbling in spiritual darkness to see Jesus – since He is the Light of the world. We long for people to rejoice in God’s forgiveness instead of suffering in guilt and judgment. We ache for those lost in a world that is all confused about the meaning of life to find meaning in Christ. We pray that those who are caught up in pride, who currently refuse to seek help from God, will be humbled before the true and living God – asking Him for the help of forgiveness that we all need. This kind of growth [people coming to God] can only occur through the message of Jesus Christ and Him crucified, and so we remain committed to the preaching and teaching of the gospel.
We also understand that God, in His grace, is not satisfied in merely saving people from hell. God wants to change us for His glory and our good. And so as God’s people, we are committed to being transformed into the image of Christ. It is our desire to grow in the fruit of the Spirit [love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control] and so become more and more like Jesus every year. This is something God calls us to do together as the body of Christ – so we seek to grow together in Christ, aiming to present each other holy and blameless to Christ on the last day. And because of this, while of course we will be excited when a person comes to Christ, we will also be just as excited when someone denies themself and takes up their cross for Jesus. It is our vision to be always growing in Christ, remembering that while we may not always be what we want to be, we know by the grace of God we are not what we used to be.
And while we seek to grow together in Christ, we refuse to believe the lie that we are wiser than God. No matter how unpopular we become, we will hold fast to the Bible as the supreme and final authority in all areas of life. We long for our church family to grow more and more in love for God’s Word: to study it, meditate on it, memorise it and most critically, to trust and obey it. This growing together must also be saturated with prayer. We want to be a church that genuinely and prayerfully depends on the Holy Spirit in all we do.
Because our goal is to grow people in Christ no matter at what stage of life they are it, it is our aim to provide ministries where every person, in every age and stage of life, can experience church family life in a way that best helps transform them in Christ. Our ideal is inclusion: we are eager to serve whoever comes to us in whatever situation they find themselves in. To do this we must be a church that is eager to identify, encourage and nurture the gifts of the Spirit in each of us. We need the many and varied gifts that God has given to us in each other if we are to grow together in Christ for God’s glory.
We understand that the future of our church depends, in part, on the quality of our leaders. We are committed to identifying gifted and godly leaders who will, in turn, inspire and equip others to be all that God created them to be. This must be true for all – our paid staff, as well as all the many volunteer leaders in our different ministries. The importance of good leadership and increasing our capacity to grow more leaders is one of the reasons why I’m thankful that our church family has chosen an optimistic budget for 2016 [at our AGM] seeking to provide the means to employ Tim Flint in 2017.
And of course as we grow together, we must remind each other that it is all for God’s glory. Everything we do is to magnify God’s great name. When all is said and done, as we seek to grow together in Christ, we have only done our duty and nothing more. And as we wipe the sweat from our brows, we are content that it is God who gives any increase and to Him be all glory and honour and praise, now and forevermore.