21 May, 2024

Jan 10 | Don’t Stay the Way You Are

by | 4 January, 2021 | 0 comments

This “Application” column goes with the Study for Jan. 10, 2021: Unconventional Wisdom(Matthew 5:17-22, 27-28, 31-35, 38-39, 43-48)


Does your church have a mission statement? A quick internet search turns up examples of mission statements that are good, bad, and funny. Unfortunately, you also can find church mission statements that sound lofty but don’t translate well into real life. In truth, they sound like corporate jargon.

In churches, relationships matter more than slogans, so mission statements should be used wisely or they come across as manipulative or irrelevant—mere words posted on the wall. It’s hard to beat the mission statement Jesus gave us in the Great Commission: make disciples, baptize, and teach (Matthew 28:18-20). However we express it, our mission always involves transformation as God moves us from lost to saved, death to life, alone to together, darkness to light, inactive to involved . . . from new birth to spiritual maturity and from aimlessness to fruitfulness.

Continued Growth

No matter how many times I read Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, it consistently challenges me to deepen my walk with God. The Lord evidently wants me to keep growing. When Christ is Lord, the status quo isn’t acceptable and spiritual growth isn’t optional. God accepts us as we are, but he loves us too much to let us stay that way.

In the congregation where I serve, we summarize our mission by saying we “help people take their next steps with Jesus.” That easy-to-remember mission statement not only reminds us to introduce non-Christians to the Lord, it also challenges those who already believe to take additional steps of faith and obedience. Even if we have been Christians for years, we still need to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2), adding to our faith goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, mutual affection, and love (2 Peter 1:5-7).

Uncommon Sense

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus repeatedly said, “You have heard that it was said . . . but I tell you.” First-century rabbis backed up their opinions by citing respected authorities, but Jesus taught “as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law” (Matthew 7:28-29). Christ didn’t need anyone else’s opinions to back him up. He fulfilled and embodied God’s Law. He challenged conventional wisdom and still does. He leads us to move beyond common sense to uncommon sense. He prods us to examine our motives and obey God from the heart instead of trying to impress others.  

On the surface it sounds logical to say, “If others hurt you, hurt them back.” Jesus says, “Turn the other cheek.”

Conventional wisdom asserts, “You’ll get by just fine by doing the bare minimum.” Jesus insists, “Go the extra mile.”

Conventional wisdom says, “It’s smart to live together before marriage. ‘Kick the tires’ and see if you are sexually compatible.” God’s Word declares, “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure” (Hebrews 13:4).

Conventional wisdom says, “Money makes the world go ’round. Give a little to charity, but don’t overdo it.” The Lord says, “Store up treasures in heaven. It’s more blessed to give than to receive” (Matthew 6:20; Acts 20:35).

In every stage of life, let’s keep taking steps of faith and helping others do the same. That isn’t a typical goal in our current culture, but it’s the way of the cross. And it’s our mission, if we choose to accept it.

Personal Challenge: What is the next step you need to take with Jesus? This week, how can you help someone else grow in the Lord?

David Faust

David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.


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