Church life begins with Jesus. He is the most beautiful human ever. He lives, now, with God the Father and the Holy Spirit in eternal, glorious, dazzling, unfading beauty. Men, women and children all over the world, down the ages, have fallen head-over-heels in love with him. Everything about him is attractive to anyone who has seen his glory. Jesus is love. He is wisdom. He is righteousness. He is grace. He alone satisfies our deepest longings and fulfils our strongest desires.
When we come to know Christ by his Spirit, we are brought into a new community; more than that, a new family. Christians are a new “we” in very profound and wonderful ways. The old “we” might have been limited to our family, our nationality, our ethnicity, our subculture, our political party, our gender, sexuality or sexual orientation, our school, our coworkers, our fellow sports fans and so on. But in Christ, we find a new and higher identity. This new “we” is diverse. It is extraordinarily diverse.
The new “we” is male and female, Black, Brown and White, youthful and elderly, single and married, fit and frail, disabled and able bodied. It is the highly educated and those with no qualifications, the rich and poor and everyone in between. Left wing and right wing. Working, middle and upper class. In paid work and out of paid work. Sport, music and art fans of all kinds. The church is international, multilingual, multicoloured, bought by Jesus on the cross, paid for by his blood, filled with his Spirit. The church is precious and glorious.
Members of the church are to treat one another in ways commanded by God in the Bible. We are to:
- Welcome and accept one another (Rom. 15:7)
- Encourage one another (1 Thess. 5:11; Heb. 3:13)
- Be devoted to one another (Rom. 12:10a)
- Build one another up (Rom. 14:19)
- Show hospitality to one another (1 Peter 4:9)
- Admonish one another (Col. 3:16)
- Comfort one another (2 Cor. 13:11)
- Care for one another (1 Cor. 12:25)
- Be completely humble, gentle and bear with one another (Eph. 4:2)
- Be without a hint of sexual immorality (Eph 5:3)
- When we sin against one another, admit it and take responsibility (James 5:16)
- Forgive one another (Eph. 4:32)
The best way to practise these commands is by sharing our lives. Church is more than an hour on Sunday, it’s life, in a loving community. As we seek to love each other in the ways God commands, the living Spirit works in our hearts to produce love, affection and sympathy for our brothers and sisters from different backgrounds.
Humans are sexual beings and we need to work out how to love one another as such. We all experience the reality, strength and complexity of sexual desire in different ways. God has made it crystal clear that all people, everywhere, sin in a broad spectrum of thoughts, words and actions, including in many sexual ways. Everyone falls far short of the glory of God in every area of life. As a church focused on Jesus, everyone is welcomed and accepted by Jesus on his terms; unconditional and overwhelming love, as we turn to him in sorrow for our failings and find his forgiveness, grace, healing, reconciliation and peace. Under his grace, we aim to live a reconciled life of love in community without any hint of sexual impropriety which is what God says is best for the whole church family.
We do this because God’s great goodness is revealed in the wide ranging ethics of the Bible. The sexual ethic of the Bible frees the church family from sexual tensions and the pressure to have sex by stating that the only right place for sex is in the privacy of the marriage of a man and a woman. We honour this beside the high calling to singleness and celibacy in community, as taught and modelled by Jesus and the Apostle Paul. We uphold both biblical marriage and singleness, and in this way see everyone freed to be truly intimate, loving each other, in Jesus, without fear.
We want an atmosphere where there is space for debate, doubt, questioning, personal struggles, failures and wrestling with biblical teaching in the context of a church that clearly teaches and applies the truth of God’s word. Come to Jesus. Join his church family!
The “New ‘we’” was adapted from Shai Linne’s book The New Reformation.
This statement will be reviewed and updated as we continue to learn about being a true church.