The new year stirs hope in people. You might hope to lose weight, get out of debt, or to become closer to the people you love. Maybe your hopes include growing spiritually, and you hope to engage in a small group, to read your Bible regularly, or to discover God’s unique purpose for your life.
At Clear Creek Community Church, we have big hopes for 2017. One of those hopes is that we might be people who show bold love to the world around us. God set the precedent for love when he sent Christ to give of himself and ultimately pay the price that we owed. So now we, as his people, are compelled to share this bold love of God with the people in our lives, loving them the way He loved us so that they might come to know him.
In this new year we hope to start a movement that can’t be ignored, a revolution, in our community where people choose to step out to boldly love their friends, neighbors, co-workers, and even complete strangers.
What does that look like?
Well, the couple that gave their used car to a single mom showed bold love. That’s big for most of us. The group member who gave her friend a ride to the hospital for cancer treatments each week showed bold love too. The list goes on and on, and that’s the beauty of it! There is no limit to how big it can be or a benchmark of how small.
So what if this spirit of generosity and service was what most of us did most of the time? What if acts of bold love were so common with the people of CCCC that people in the community could not ignore it? What if acts of bold love made people think about God, melted away skepticism and opened doors to faith conversations? That would be a revolution!
But there’s a problem.
The truth is, I have good intentions when it comes to boldly loving people, but I don’t follow through enough. My intentions get lost in busyness or timidity or my own selfishness. I don’t intend to miss opportunities to show bold love to my family, neighbors or coworkers, but I do.
Because I know this is true of me, I suspect it might be true of others. That’s what Go Bold is all about. Go Bold is our effort to remind each other of the opportunities to show love to people in our lives, and will include prompts or “challenges” to help us think of ways to love people in our community.
Whatever your hopes are for 2017, remember this: Together, we’re better. Together, we can show such love to our community that it cannot go unnoticed. So join the revolution! Take a risk. Be courageous. Go Bold, and show love to someone in your life in a new and unexpected way. Then, tell us about it. Use #GoBold on social media, fill out a Go Bold story card at your campus, or shoot us an email—not so you get credit, but to give God glory and to inspire the rest of us to Go Bold as well.
“We love because he first loved us.”
1 John 4:10
“God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and discipline.”
2 Timothy 1:7
I knew I was treading into unfamiliar territory when we (the teaching team) determined to do a series of messages on Justice and Mercy.
I call it unfamiliar because my personal involvement in Justice and Mercy has been more about something I was supposed to do than something I did.
Church history makes it clear that Jesus’ followers have always been engaged in justice and mercy. Justin Martyr, who wrote in the middle of the second century, said this about Christians:
“Those who once delighted in fornication now embrace chastity alone;… we who once took most pleasure in accumulating wealth and property now… share with everyone in need; we who hated and killed one another and would not associate with men of different tribes because of their different customs now, since the coming of Christ, live familiarly with them and pray for our enemies.”
And Aristides, an apologist for Christianity writing around AD 125, described Christians as follows:
“They walk in all humility and kindness, and falsehood is not found among them, and they love one another. They despise not the widow, and grieve not the orphan. He that hath, distributeth liberally to him that hath not. If they see a stranger, they bring him under their roof, and rejoice over him, as it were their own brother: for they call themselves brethren, not after the flesh, but after the spirit and God; but when one of their poor passes away from the world, and any of them see him, then he provides for his burial according to his ability; and if they hear that any of their number is imprisoned or oppressed for the name of their Messiah, all of them provide for his needs; and if it is possible that he may be delivered, they deliver him. And if there is among them a man that is poor and needy, and they have not an abundance of necessaries, they fast two or three days that they may supply the needy with their necessary food.”
I have seen Justice and Mercy with “skin on it” around CCCC.
My wife is fully engaged in Justice and Mercy regularly with the PIN (People In Need) team. The PIN team walks with people through financial challenges and responsibly distributes resources given by the people of CCCC. I have seen Justice and Mercy in groups who engage with Christ centered non-profits like Lighthouse Christian Ministries to feed the hungry, care for the homeless, and help with medical care and job readiness programs. I see Justice and Mercy in the families who are committed to orphan care through fostering and adopting children. Recently, more than a hundred people who are committed to orphan care gathered for a picnic in the park to get to know one another better so they can support one another in the challenges of fostering and adopting children.
The Justice and Mercy series lays a biblical foundation for how the church can be responsibly engaged in Justice and Mercy to demonstrate the gospel of the Kingdom of God that we believe and proclaim to the world. But don’t think for a moment that the people of CCCC are not engaged in Justice and Mercy already. Many people are. And many more might be on the cusp of a new level of engagement in Justice and Mercy.
To hear the Justice & Mercy message series, click here.
 Justin Martyr, First Apology, quoted in Peter C. Phan, Social Thought, vol. 20 of Message of the Fathers of the Church, ed. Thomas Halton (Wilmington: Michael Glazier, 1984), 56.
 Aristides, quoted in Martin Hengel, Property and Riches in the Early Church (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1974), 42-43.
Are you a Democrat or a Republican? Maybe you’re an Independent. Which political party is the Christian party? Which political persuasion is right?
The Bible doesn’t say.
I know. You might be ready to fight over this one. After all, don’t Christians believe in caring for the poor? Don’t Christians believe abortion is evil? Don’t Christians believe in personal responsibility? Don’t Christians believe in social justice?
Each belief tends to be associated with one party more than another. Democrats are known for their emphasis on social justice. Republicans are known for their emphasis on personal responsibility. The Bible is clear that abortion, greed, racism, and oppression are wrong—each is sin. Each is associated with one party more than another. That’s why some Democrats says, “I don’t know how you can call yourself a Christian and vote Republican.” That’s why some Republicans say, “I don’t know how you can call yourself a Christian and vote Democratic.”
Part of the political gridlock and vitriol in America is reinforced by Christians who confuse their faith with their politics. Your blood pressure might have just gone up about ten points, but hear me out. I’m not saying that our faith does not influence all of our life, including our politics. I disagree with politicians that say their faith will not influence their politics; I would argue that if that’s true, their faith isn’t much good.
So then, what do I mean when I say it’s a problem to confuse faith with politics?
Your political persuasion is about a philosophy of government. What role does the government play in a society? For instance, Democrats often see the brokenness in our society as rooted in broken systems. Democrats emphasize the government’s role in addressing injustices and social problems through restoring broken systems, and thus, Democrats tend to want a larger government because they believe it will make for a better America.
On the other hand, Republicans often see the brokenness in our society as being rooted more in broken people than in broken systems, so they emphasize a smaller government that calls upon personal responsibility in the private sector to solve problems.
The Bible speaks to social justice and personal responsibility; it speaks to broken systems and broken people. But the Bible does not provide a template for which of those matters should or should not be addressed by the government. Christians are free to believe in large government or small government. And if you do not allow such freedom, you have confused your faith with politics. Some followers of Jesus are Republicans and some are Democrats because of their philosophy of the role of government in a society. But both must find their identity in Jesus Christ and not their political preferences. Both must look to scripture as the authority for what they believe and not to a party platform.
At Clear Creek Community Church, we do not endorse parties or candidates, and we don’t think any gospel-preaching church should. And it’s not because we are spineless or unwilling to take a stand. Listen up. This is our stand. The gospel of Jesus Christ is our message, and the timeless and eternal message of the gospel is too important to get lost amidst political conversations and preferences. If we go political, some will not hear the most important message in the world. Here’s the shorthand version:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16 (ESV)
A thousand years from now, no one will be talking about who is president or which political party you prefer. Everyone will be talking about Jesus and his amazing grace toward us.
Don’t confuse moral and ethical issues with political parties. The church must address moral and ethical matters, and some will misunderstand a moral stance as being political. Life is sacred, so abortion is murder. If someone interprets that as a political statement, they are exposing their worldview as being fundamentally political. With a Christian worldview, that’s a biblical position about the value of human life.
As we take a stand on issues, sometimes we will sound Republican and sometimes we will sound like a Democrat. For instance, we embrace justice issues that might make us look like a Democrat. We embrace personal responsibility issues that make us look like a Republican. Either way, we submit to the words of our true King, Jesus, regardless of how that looks politically.
Let me be clear. Christians should be fully engaged in the political process. We need Christians to be politicians. We must vote. We must pray about and seek to influence the outcomes of elections, laws and policies. But we must not think for a moment that politics is our ultimate hope. No matter who sits in the oval office, Jesus Christ sits on the throne in God’s eternal Kingdom. He is our Lord. He is our hope.
On November 9, the day after the presidential election, whether Republican, Democrat, Independent or something else, we must remind ourselves of the truth in the following passages:
- Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. – Philippians 2:9-11 (ESV)
- He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. – Colossians 1:15-20 (ESV)
I am on social media! Please, follow me on Twitter and Instagram, and friend me on Facebook. I know that sounds a little needy, but I hope you really will connect with me through social media.
Obviously I am not a pioneer, or even an early adopter. I fit in the laggard category when it comes to social media.
So why get on social media now?
It’s not so I can show off my grandchildren or the big trout I catch while fly-fishing. Okay, maybe it’s a little bit of both of those. But those aren’t the main reasons.
My hope is that engaging social media will support the mission of God by doing two things.
First, I hope it creates a window through which we can share life. In 1 Thessalonians 2:8, the apostle Paul says to the church at Thessalonica, “We loved you so much that we shared with you not only God’s Good News but our own lives, too” (NLT). I get to share God’s Good News with the people of Clear Creek Community Church regularly through preaching, but sharing the daily grind of my life has become more challenging. While I can’t have everyone in the Clear Creek Family in my home (although Susan and I would enjoy that), through social media I can open a window into my life as you open a window into yours.
Communication is my second reason for getting on social media. As CCCC has grown larger, with multiple campuses, communication has become more difficult. Social media has developed into another way to communicate about God’s work in and through CCCC. I plan to post meaningful events, celebrate what God is doing among us and share the daily interactions of what CCCC is about.
Two warnings seem necessary.
I will probably be bad at this, at least in the beginning. We often do things poorly before we learn to do them well. And I probably won’t be able to respond to everything I see or each message I get. This is my greatest anxiety about being on social media. I fear I will disappoint people who use social media to seek help instead of contacting their navigator, elder, ministry leader or the church office.