The Nutshell

 

Probably without knowing it, certainly without planning it, a group of young exiles formed a covenant community. “Let’s get together and do a bible study or something…” we said.  “Church” had grown into a disconnected expression of faith, with no real room for actual expression of faith.  But apart from the detachment and discontent, a desire to grow closer to God and experience the Gospel of Jesus bubbled under the surface.  The church as we knew it did not match up with the church we longed for, even though we didn’t really know what that longing looked like lived out.  Our time together had grown surface level.  We knew we all loved Jesus, and we knew we wanted more of Him expressed in our life; we just weren’t sure how to express it.  We had all tasted the kingdom in a myriad of ways but had nowhere to mix those tastes together in an expression that would take our faith experiences from memories and nostalgia to action and journey; from word made word – theology, knowledge and philosophy – to word made flesh – living, empowering and growing. 

 

In the five years since the initial Tuesday Night Crew, when 12 young adults got together to talk about Jesus, we’ve been exploring what it looks like for people to follow Jesus.  A core group has pushed ahead seeking the Lord and seeing him intervene in so many ways.  He’s allowed us to grow and struggle.  He’s given us joy and been there in our suffering.  He’s shown us victory and allowed us to fail.  Revival has happened; not the revival we expected.  No big buildings full of people – no hype – but lives changed, families changed, people reconciled to God and people reconciled to one another.  People have been drawn together by the power of the Holy Spirit and the love of those who are filled by him, to hear the good news about Jesus Christ crucified and raised from the dead, overcoming the power of sin and death and reconciling us to God who is Love.  People are sent out with new life and full of his spirit, made new creations in Christ by the power and grace of his spirit, to share the good news with others in our communities and around the world.  People are being discipled and pushed to lives of dependence on the Holy Spirit to lead them, guide them and empower them.  People are being encouraged to use their gifts for the glory of Christ and growth of the Kingdom.

 

All the while, the covenant - however unspoken or poorly articulated - has remained the same; get to know Jesus and love others the way he loves us.  Live out the Kingdom so others can enter the Kingdom.  Extend the same mercy and grace he’s extended to us.  We were reluctant to call ourselves a church as the word comes with so much connotation that we don’t care to embody.  But we are a church: called out ones who have heard Jesus say, you are forgiven, now live, bound together by the one thing that binds all creation together, Jesus Christ himself, through whom all things on heaven and earth are made.

 

We long to see the truth of Jesus’ completed work on the cross experienced in the lives of people who choose to recognize him for who he is; Lord, master, brother, friend, creator, rescuer, sustainer, Bridegroom, God.

 

For those who have believed in their heart and confessed with their mouth that Jesus is Lord, we long to see the fullness of Him who dwells richly within them experienced and expressed in their lives as they live as adopted children of their Father in Heaven, as ambassadors of the Kingdom of Heaven in the world but not of the world, as the part of the body of Christ they were designed and created to be, as image bearers of the one who made them, as those who have been reconciled, renewed and restored to live with the resurrection power that raised Christ from the grave as reality every day.  As those who walk by faith, lead by the spirit, free from the law that brings death and alive to the law of love expressed in the mercy extended to us by the Grace revealed in Jesus death on the cross and resurrection from the dead.

 

For those who have not yet heard his voice, not yet listened to His call, we extend only Mercy and Grace that they might experience and know that His love is real, his sacrifice was sufficient and his promise is everlasting and fully extended with no requirement but to turn away from the rule of sin and turn to the One who has offered the free gift of rescue and reconciliation by his grace, not our merit.  We are experiencing his healing of our brokenness and desire that everyone enters a journey of healing and freedom through the power of the one who came to set us free and make us spotless, righteous and holy, free from condemnation and given our full inheritance in the kingdom of heaven.

 

So now we find ourselves bound together, moving forward on the journey God has laid out for us as a covenant community.  We will proclaim and live the Gospel in full dependence on the Holy Spirit to accomplish His work through our weakness.  We will grow in faith, persevere through hope and love without exception.