The Mission Statement of Orchard Community Church is “We exist to make and become fully devoted followers of Christ through the renewing and transforming power of the gospel for the glory of God.”
This is the last of three posts on the Mission Statement of Orchard Community Church. The first was about the Glory of God and the second was about being Fully Devoted Followers of Christ. This week I want to look at the idea of the “renewing and transforming power of the gospel.”
In Romans, Paul writes “I am not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). Do we really believe this today? There are a lot of Christian books out there on how to improve yourself, your marriage, your job, your church, and your children. Many contain very helpful advice. Often pastors preach sermons about these things as well. My fear is that maybe, just maybe, underlying all of these ideas is the basic (and very wrong) assumption that we must change ourselves. Sometimes I get the feeling that believers in Jesus Christ have lost the idea that the gospel is powerful to change us and have instead assumed that we must rely on our own good intentions, programs, and efforts. We seem to scratch and claw our way to small changes on our own instead of relying on the monumental power that is available in the gospel.
How powerful is the gospel? Like Paul said in Romans 1:16 – it is the power of God. Ephesians 1:19-20 explains that this is “his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead…” Did you catch that? The power of the gospel is the same power that raised Christ from the dead! If you are a believer in Christ, that is the power that is at work IN YOU! The difference this power makes is the difference between life and death – “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
As a church we are not worried about having the best programs or techniques. Our worship services won’t wow you and our use of technology certainly won’t blow you away. Our coffee is OK and the preaching is probably average. But what we have is greater than anything you will ever find in the world – the power of the gospel. Our teaching isn’t about improving ourselves – it is about dying to self and accepting the new life that is only available through the gospel.
The power of the gospel renews us. It is an ongoing recreation of who God made us to be in the first place. It is a hope and a strength beyond any situation in this life. It is a renewing of strength not by improving us, but by substituting God’s strength in the place of our weakness.
The power of the gospel transforms us. No one can come to Jesus Christ and accept the gospel (the good news of His death, burial, and resurrection in our place for our salvation) without being changed. You cannot add Jesus on to your life like installing an app on your phone or adding him to the already crowded list of priorities in your life. Transformation is a total change – a complete tear down and rebuilding of who you are. After all, minor improvements on a condemned building might make it look better, but it is still destined to fall apart. This transformation comes as the gospel redirects our lives, redefines our priorities, and renews our will to conform with God’s perfect will.
As a church, we will trust in the power of the gospel in everything that we do. I believe this will make us better parents, employees, leaders, stewards of our money, and everything else in our lives, but not because we are simply improving ourselves in small ways. It will be because God is at work in us through the power of the gospel for the glory of God.
How have you seen the power of the gospel at work in your life? How can we continue to demonstrate the power of the gospel in our individual lives and together as the Church?
photo by flickr user Shane Woodson