(I wrote this post several years ago. The context was a study that our men's ministry was about to start studying together.)
I wanted to take this opportunity to do two things: First of all, I wanted to provide you with our schedule for Monday evenings and Wednesday mornings for the next few months Second, I wanted to briefly introduce our upcoming study for this Fall.
The founder of the Methodist Church, John Wesley, often used the phrase, “scriptural holiness.” It was his description of the Bible’s command to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Part of what it means to love God, according to Wesley, is to be holy as God is holy. We pursue this as we take advantage of the means of grace, (or spiritual disciplines), such as studying Scripture, prayer, worship, fasting, etc. Slowly but surely our goal is to become more and more like our Lord in the way we think, act, and speak (every sphere of life). The natural overflow of growing in personal (or inward) holiness is a love and concern for one’s neighbor. This neighbor-love is expressed in and through compassionate acts of mercy, justice, and service. This is how we bear witness as salt and light to a dark and decaying world.
Thus, scriptural holiness, for Wesley, involved both inward and outward holiness (Christlikeness). That is precisely what I have always meant by my use of the phrase, “extending the Kingdom of God into every sphere of life.” This is nothing more and nothing less than the biblically balanced discipleship that both the Old and New Testaments teach.
I believe that over the last nine years, we have done a marvelous job of seeking to grow spiritually as individuals. We have certainly chased after inward holiness. More than that, we have also looked at how we might lead our families in the pursuit of becoming more and more whom God has called us to be. And no doubt this effort has certainly and positively affected our work, church, and our many other spheres of influence as well.
And yet, I feel as though we haven’t focused intentionally on the world beyond our comfort zones (on outward holiness). This is my fault and I hope to remedy this error. I believe that if we are going to have greater impact in extending the Kingdom of God into every sphere of life, then we must spend some time together meditating upon what this will mean in our lives.
Pastor Bruce continues to present our Southside family with this question: What would happen to the Southside/San Marco community if our church family were to vanish tomorrow? Would our absence be felt? Are we making a difference?
I believe we are making a difference in many ways. But I’m just as convinced that we are not yet where God wants us to be. A little holy discontent is a good thing.
My goal for our new study is to get us thinking about such things…as well as acting on them. The Church is the outpost of God’s Kingdom. He has charged us with the mission of turning the world upside-down with the Gospel (good news) of that Kingdom. This means much more than personal piety and evangelistic zeal (though not less). It also means that disciples of Jesus Christ are called to imitate the model of our Lord Jesus who had a holistic approach to his mission. He cared for the body and the soul. He spoke and he acted. His holiness was inward and outward. He loved in word and deed.
John Stott has written,
[Jesus’] words explained his works, and his works dramatized his words. …For words remain abstract until they are made concrete in deeds of love, while works remain ambiguous until they are interpreted by the proclamation of the gospel. Words without works lack credibility; works without words lack clarity. So Jesus’ works made his words visible; his words made his works intelligible.
Our new study will help us better understand all that it means to be salt and light in our neighborhoods (and in our culture and in our world). The variety is as great as our God-inspired creativity and giftedness. Our new study is entitled, “Discipling My Neighborhood,” and the titles to each lesson are…
1.) Where He Leads Me (looks at following Jesus wherever he places us)
2.) Love Your Neighbor (looks at the second greatest commandment)
3.) This Little Light of Mine (looks at leading a godly life before a watching world)
4.) Loving the Unlovely and Neglected (looks at our call to minister to the least and the last of our society)
5.) Your Dual Citizenship (looks at what it means for believers to have both heavenly and earthly citizenship)
6.) Who Really Cares (looks at what it means to minister to the elderly, fatherless, sick, and imprisoned)
7.) Informed Disciples Are Well-Equipped Disciples (looks at what it means to know the worldviews of the culture in which we live)
8.) Discipling Those in Authority (looks at what it means to submit to and pray for those in authority)
9.) Surrounded by Discipling Opportunities (looks at what it means to exert godly influence to our neighbors)
10.)Reaching for and Working for the Blessings (looks at the blessings that await those who faithfully obey the Lord)
Grace and Truth,