The mercy of God is the flipside of His justice. God alone is both perfectly just and yet at the same time perfectly merciful. In fact, it is the justice of God that makes His mercy so much more awesome and astounding. The cross represents the fullest way in which these two seemingly opposite realities are brought into perfect unity. On the cross Jesus died so we could be the recipients of God’s mercy in the only way that would still allow God to act with perfect justice. The overflow of the mercy we received through Christ is that we should reflect God’s mercy to others.
Have you ever noticed that children seem born with a sense of what is “fair?” That’s because one of the ways we reflect God as His image bearers is in our desire for justice. God is just. In fact, in Deuteronomy 32:4 God’s Word tells us that “all His ways are just.” Justice is not simply something God desires it is core to who He is. He is the measure of justice and the one who ultimately metes out justice. God’s justice is ultimately seen most clearly on the cross. Because God is just, sin must be paid for, there is no other option. The only option is whether we accept the payment Christ made or whether we pay the price ourselves.
When Jesus first called His disciples, He was clear they were being called to something more than listening to Jesus teach. The vision of Jesus was always to make disciples who would make disciples. A church with Jesus as the head is a church committed to multiplying and making more disciples of Jesus. At Forward, this means we will intentionally build bridges with our neighbours by serving them and seeking their good. We will be unashamed in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus as the hope for every person. And we are committed to planting other churches and being a multi-site church.
Our love for Jesus should manifest in a wholehearted desire to always give God our best. God gave us His best when He sent His only begotten Son to die for us. The depth of His love and grace expresses His overwhelming generosity towards us. Because we have experienced God’s generosity, we will seek to reflect that same attitude in all we do. We will do everything to the best of our ability in every moment of life. We will be generous in our relationships with others by showing kindness and forgiveness. In our finances, we will give generously so others can grow in Christ and experience His love for them.
If we have been encouraged and changed by Jesus, then we should take on the same posture as Jesus – the posture of serving. Jesus emptied and humbled Himself to serve us through His life and death on the cross. His goal was our ultimate good and the glory of the Father. We are committed to being a church where the norm is to participate in the mission God has given us. We do this because our greatest desire is to honour and become more like Him.
As we launch into the fall, we want to anchor the church in what our church culture should look like. Our starting point is being a church led by Jesus. We want to be a church that sees and experiences the majesty and love of Jesus to such a degree that we can’t help but want to love and follow Him. Being a church led by Jesus means we seek the Father’s will and blessing through prayer – the Word of God is our authority in belief and practice – and the Holy Spirit is guiding and empowering all we do.
The power of prayer is twofold. One, it changes us. 1 John 5:14 lets us know that it is part of the process by which God causes our will to be brought into line with his will. Prayer not only changes us though, it also changes things. 1 John 5:15 lets us know that God hears and answers our prayers. Throughout scripture we see people healed, wisdom granted, enemies defeated, by God’s power in response to His people’s prayers.
Paul’s final exhortation to the Corinthians in vs. 13 and 14 act as a summary and bookended to all that Paul has had to say to the Corinthians: “Be Watchful, Stand firm in the faith, be brave, be strong, let all that you do be done in love.” Paul reminds them again of the importance of discernment, he encourages them to hold fast to the faith, to be brave and strong, but undergirding all of this most be a Spirit of love and unity.
This small section points out that it’s good and valuable to plan. Ministry often requires us to think ahead, to plan, to strategize. But, we must always recognize that our plans are secondary to God’s plans. Make your plans, but then place your plans in God’s hands.