What We Believe
I recently rewrote the “what we believe” statement for my church. I tried to summarize Biblical doctrine in a manner that honors the way Scripture communicates doctrine. The following is the first draft.
Creation and Sin:
We believe God created the earth, the universe, and all that is. Humanity is the pinnacle of God’s Creation, made in the very likeness of their Creator. God made the world, saw that it was good, and put humanity in charge of keeping it good. With this charge to care for creation came power, the power to obey God and take care of the world He Created and the power to disobey God and destroy His creation. The first humans chose to disobey God and it really messed up Creation, themselves, and their relationship with God. We call choosing to disobey God “sin.”
Everything Is Beautiful and Broken:
We are living in a world created good that the sin of people has messed up. This is why the world is such on odd place, full of both incredible beauty and destruction simultaneously. Good creation gone bad is why all people can be both beautiful and ugly, loving and hateful, amazing and disgusting. The world is incredibly, but it needs to be set right again. People are amazing, but we are also broken and we interact with God, eachother, and the world in both amazing and broken ways.
Setting the World Right:
When humanity screwed up Creation, themselves, and their relationship with God, God didn’t abandon Creation or people. Rather, God set to work to fix things. He sent a flood to wash away evil and re-create the world, but sin came back. He saw humanity isolating itself from the world and becoming arrogant so he spread them over the globe to populate and care for the entirety of the earth. In all God’s efforts to make the world good again, He uses people.
Blessing the World With A Blessed People:
God called a man name Abraham to set the world right. God set apart Abraham and his descendants (Israel) to live devoted to God, obeying His voice, and receive His blessing. The purpose of this specially blessed people was to bless everyone in a world. The descendants of Abraham were to eventually become a nation devoted to God, a bright light in a dark world designed to show all people what life is supposed to look like, bringing all people into God’s blessing.
These beautiful and broken people, set apart to set the world right, were at times a part of the solution, but were often a part of the problem. Israel disobeyed God in all sorts of ways: oppressing the poor, doing injustice to the innocent, worshipping other gods, murder, adultery, prostitution, and even child sacrifice. The special people who were given God’s blessing, laws, and presence to bring all peoples into relationship with God were just as sinful and guilty as everyone else, compounding on the ruin of Creation.
God in the Flesh:
God stubbornly refuses to abandon His Creation. God sent His son Jesus to earth, who consisted of the same substance of God Himself, to save the world. Jesus was born of a woman and born of God. He lived a life without sin, in complete love of others, and in intimate relationship with God, perfectly representing His image to the world as humanity was created to do. Having brought healing, teachings of life, and hope to humanity, they put Jesus to death on a cross. Jesus, as God, took on all the violent sin humanity could throw at Him and died with that sin on Him.
The sin that brings death killed Jesus, but Jesus was resurrected from the dead. The sin which died with Jesus stayed dead. All our sin against God, the sin that keeps us from right relationship with Him and others, died with Jesus for our forgiveness. With sin dead and God alive, we have been set free from sin and all its effects and thus have been set right to be in the presence of God. Jesus freed us to live in unhindered intimacy with God and each other again.
The Church Is God in The Flesh:
Soon after Jesus, was resurrected, He ascended into heaven. Being just like His Father, Jesus did not ascend to abandon Creation, but ascended to be more for the world than he was when He was here. Jesus sent His Spirit on those who believe, now the spirit of Jesus resides with all believers across the earth. Jesus, God Himself, is still tangibly here in a visible flesh. His body is what His spirit resides in: the community of believers, the church.
Those who trust in Jesus have been given redeemed hearts, but our bodies and the world in which we live is still physically affected by sin. Our bodies still die, our psyche is still marred, we still are given to the selfish pursuit of being our own god, and Creation is still screwed up, but this is not the end. Our redemption has just begun. Our heart, our spirit, the core of who we are, has been fully redeemed by God and there will come a day when Jesus Messiah comes back to give us the same resurrection he had, a wholly redeemed physicality.
When this day comes, the kingdom God has been setting up in the midst of those who put their trust in Him will come in full. The Kingdom of God will reign over all the earth. When Jesus reigns all wounds will be healed, all tears will be wiped away, and all wrongs will be set right. Our innocence and intimacy restored, we will once again walk side by side with God. The world created good will be good again.
The Future Kingdom In The Present:
The people of God, the church, are charged with bringing the future kingdom now. Because the spirit of Jesus reigns in the church, the kingdom of God is present in the the church. We are to live free from the sin which bars relational intimacy. Healed of our wounds, we are free to be Jesus to the rest of the world, setting wrongs right, freeing those still held captive to sin, and inviting others into a life of love. Equipped and empowered by God’s spirit, we have the honor of showing the world the beautiful love of our Creator God.
Thoughts? What am I missing? What should I throw out?