Philippians 2:5-11; 1 John 4:19
We will sacrifice our comfort to love one another.
We are creatures of habit, but if we are going reach across in love to others, we must leave our spheres of comfort and walk across those uncertain spaces to reach out in love. When we do that, we create Grace Space to connect with people.
We value others by seeking to know them and be known by them.
People are made in the image of God. They are inherently valuable and their goodness existed before their fall. Knowing this, everyone is worth getting to know, and we are worth being known. We show people we love them by taking the time to know their names, their relationships, and their actions, and by offering up parts of our lives so that a loving bridge is built.
1 Peter 4:10-11
Excellence is not perfection.
It is easy to think that when we seek excellence we are seeking perfection. This is not the case...Perfection is not achievable, and growth is stopped when perfection is expected. We will not expect perfection from anyone or anything, but laugh together at errors, and learn from failure
We will seek to make the most out of our time, talent, and resources.
We all have valuable time, talent, and resources. When we make the most of them we are good managers. God desires that we use these things where they should be used and for His glory. Whatever you have - time, talent, resources - do your best with it, make the most out of it.
We don’t settle; we strive to improve.
While we don’t seek perfection, we also don’t want to settle for good enough. We will use what we have to the best of our ability, but always seek to improve. Never think being a beginner is bad and never think you’ve arrived. Help others and seek help and you will discover everyone improves when they are best using what they have to offer.
1 Corinthians 10:31
We worship God in every way—except sin.
Worship isn’t just singing on Sunday; it is whatever we do for the glory of God. Whether we sing, eat dinner, go to to work, or shake a hand on Sunday, we do it all for Him. Worship is an attitude of living our lives to show God how much we love Him. When we do things for ourselves we sin and cannot worship, so we want to fight selfish motivations in our ministry and remind ourselves that whatever we do, we do it for God.
Worship is born from the personal to be shared in the corporate.
Worship begins in our times alone with God when our focus is on the Word and prayer. Our private worship, be it eating, singing, studying, praying or contemplating God, is only the beginning. Worship is born there so that it may be shared with everyone else who loves God. When we come out of our personal times into the corporate time of worship, we are all blessed as we serve, sing, pray and do all of this together. We build each other up and it is an amazing sight to those who don’t know Christ.
2 Timothy 3:16-17
We study the Bible in its original context.
The Bible was written over hundreds of years, many thousands of years ago. Life has changed a lot since Bible times. If we are to know what God has said to humanity, we must know what He was saying to the original hearers. We want to teach the Bible as it was intended by God, in its original context. We don’t want to lift it from the historical context, or from its literary context. We don’t want to just throw verses around without knowing what they mean from where they sit in the Bible because we want to know what God has instructed.
We apply the Bible to the whole of our lives.
The Bible lays its claims over every aspect of human life. There is no venture, thought, or part of this world in which the Bible doesn’t yield its influence. Therefore, we apply the Bible not just to spiritual matters, but to situations in our homes, at work, our neighborhoods, our nation, and the world. We will take the truths of the Bible and bring them to bear in all that we are involved in.
God’s worldview impacts all aspects of culture.
There is no part of culture that we should not be trying to impact. We should work to correct every broken and sinful part of culture. We should participate in every good and right part of culture. We ought to be involved in art, science, business, service, church, family life, etc. We long for the beauty of the worldview born from the Bible to change us, and to change our world.
The strength of the church is in the strength of its members.
The church is not the staff or the elders, it is the people. The church is only strong when the members of the church are strong. When we are studying, praying, living, and worshiping God passionately, the church is strong. If a staff is strong, the people can be weak, but if the membership is strong they will make a strong staff. Ask yourself, then, if everyone is like me, how strong is the church?
We serve out of our love for God and others.
We do not serve simply because God made us to serve, rather service begins because we love God who served us so greatly in Jesus Christ. This heart means we will do any job and nothing is beneath us because nothing was beneath Christ. At the same time, we want to serve where it best helps the people in our church. As we serve in these ways, we believe we discover the heart of service and are ready to be used where God has made us to be used. So, serve from your love of God and help those around you.
We need each other, we can’t do it alone.
A single pencil can be broken. Try to break a dozen and it’s impossible. God made us for community, and, if we are struggling, we need each other. Nothing we do here can be done alone. We cannot serve alone, grow alone, get healed alone, or fix relationships alone. We need each other. That’s how the Trinitarian God made us.
We take the risk to know and be known.
Being known is risky, but we must be known. If we aren’t, sin grows and the soul is destroyed. We must be known by others, and we must know others. Fakeness cannot happen in the church. Liars and Pharisees are welcome, but both must eventually repent. To have great community we need honest community, and that comes by knowing and being known. Without that we cannot have community.
We love people where they are while helping them to mature in Christ.
That risk to be known cannot be met with hostility, it must be met with grace. When someone admits their sin, we don’t destroy them with morality, rather we must receive them with love. But we don’t want to let people remain stuck in sin. Through encouragement and exhortation, we do the hard thing and call people to maturity. In our desire to be like Christ, we become an aid to growth and enable people to escape the snares of sin. This is the power of community and discipline.
It’s not a program, it’s a life-long process.
Too many people think that discipleship is a class or a program a church puts in place, and that once we go through it we can check it off our “to do” list of the Christian life, or church life. That is not discipleship. Discipleship is a life-long process of following Jesus. The life and gospel of Jesus should influence every part of our lives: how we think, how we feel, how we decide, and how we act. It shapes our character, neighborhoods, families, workplaces and nations. This is done by us every day seeking to follow after Him. We will never check off discipleship as done.
We grow in Christ while helping others grow in Christ.
Growth should never stop. We know we will never be perfect, but we will always strive after Him. Each of us is to follow Jesus and, if we do so, we will, like Jesus, have people who follow in our footsteps. This is part of the life as a disciple of Jesus: we will lead others to know Him and follow Him. We are not done helping someone follow Jesus until they, too, are aiding another to follow Jesus.
Pour out your cup.
Many people think they can’t lead someone into a deeper walk with Jesus because they are not pastors or professionals. But that isn’t what Jesus said. He told us to follow Him and have others follow you as you follow Him. Basically, you just need to give away what you’ve got. That’s what it means to pour out your cup. Everyone has something to give to someone else. Let’s go and give it away; let’s pour out our cups.
Acts 1:8; Matthew 28:19
All we do is “so that” all may know.
It doesn’t matter if it is preaching the gospel, shaking a hand, or driving to work. Everything that we do at Olive Branch has a “so that”—so that everyone we encounter may know about Jesus Christ. That is why he left the church, so that the world may know His love. We sing worship music so that people encounter God and then go tell the world. We send people overseas and to their neighbors, so that the world may know. All our ministries know that the reason we meet needs and serve others is “so that” all may know.
Everyone, everywhere needs Jesus.
There is no one in this world who doesn’t need Jesus. Hindu, Muslim, Atheist, Christian—everyone needs Jesus. And there is no place that a person can be found on this planet where they are immune from the need of the gospel. That is why we are going to take the gospel to everyone we can, wherever we can. Because everyone, everywhere needs Jesus.
No one is beyond hope.
It is important to remind ourselves that no one is beyond hope. For if anyone is beyond hope, then we ourselves might be beyond hope. But God has not put a restriction on the gospel. It does not matter whether someone is an addict, an alcoholic, a criminal, a pedophile, a homosexual, an athiest, a Buddhist...you name it; no one is beyond the hope that the gospel brings. As long as they have life and a person willing to risk sharing the gospel with them, they can share in the hope of that gospel.
Live the gospel so you must use words.
The gospel is not just a lifestyle; nor is it just some words that we tell someone. Rather we are to reveal the gospel with our lives and explain the gospel with our words. Miss the life and the words are hollow. Miss the words and the life is whatever that person thinks it is. Both words and actions must be combined for the gospel to be understood and received. We must live so that our lives compel people to wonder and ask us about them. When they do, we must be ready to unapologetically attach the good in our lives to the gospel of Jesus and explain it. That is why we say, “so you must use words.” Live well so that words are required.