At 6th & Gibbs Church of Christ, we have a mission. It’s not one we take lightly, but one that we believe is the most important job of all Christians. We are Reproducing Authentic Christians. So what does that mean?
When Jesus left His disciples behind to go to heaven, what was the charge He left with them? We find it in Matthew 28:19-20:
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
We see a few lessons in these two verses alone:
- We’re not commanded to go. Although it may sound like a command in English, in Greek, the original language of the Bible, it’s written as an expected action. We’re not commanded to go, but we are expected to go.
- What do we go and do? Make disciples.
- How do we make new disciples? We baptize them into the name of Jesus, and we teach them to obey everything that Jesus taught.
This is where we get our vision that being a church means we are Reproducing Authentic Christians.
We believe in breaking this mold. We want to be a mission-driven church. We don’t want to be a church that’s happy about what we can do for us. We want to be a church that’s happy about what we can do for others. And what does the world need more than anything? A Savior named Jesus who can take away their sins and restore their relationship with God.
And to become the church we so desperately want to be, we came up with these three steps:
Step 1: Being
The first step of the process is being an authentic Christian. How can we show the world what authentic Christianity is about if we don’t prove it with our own actions? So the question always becomes: what is authentic Christianity? We find the answer to that in 1 John 4:7-12:
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
Whenever the word “love” is used in this passage, it comes from the Greek word “agape.” Agape love is a self-sacrificial, unconditional love. This love is something that is not expressed through mere words, but action. It’s a love that reveals itself through the sacrificial action of the one who loves for the benefit of the one being loved. And this is the love God has for each and every one of us. Why? Because while we sinned and damaged the relationship between us and Him, He sent Jesus, His Son, to die on the cross to restore the broken relationship.
And so in response to this agape love that has been lavished upon us, how would an authentic Christian respond?
First, we love God. This is the God of the universe who loved us so much that even though He knew we would sin, He created us anyway knowing Jesus would need to be the ultimate sacrifice to save us. Through this action, we see that God, by nature, is loving God. How can we not love Him back for restoring what was damaged? How can we not offer Him our lives in obedience to Him for what he has done for us? We show Him love because He demonstrated exactly what love is.
Second, because God is love and He loves all of humanity, an authentic Christian loves others. It’s our mission and purpose to express the love of Jesus to the world. And we do this by expressing agape love – placing the needs of others above ourselves. This is a love that is expressed not only to those who are easy to love, but those who are difficult to love as well. Our hope is to look at everyone through God’s eyes, seeing each person as one of His creations, and as one worthy of receiving the love He graciously gave us.
Authentic Christianity can be boiled down to these two things: loving God and loving others. And I know that’s a common, cliched saying in most churches. However, if we do this right, we will live in unity with one another and will be a force that can allow us to take the next step in our faith.
Step 2: Sharing
Alan Hirsch, Christian author and missional church leader, said, “Every Christian is a sent one. There is no such thing as an unsent Christian.” Here’s the challenging question: If this is true (and based on the Great Commission we read earlier, we know it is), why is it that so many Christians can live their whole lives without sharing their faith with another?
And so we not only want to be authentic Christians, but ones who also share their faith with others, to reproduce ourselves so that all will know the name of Jesus.
When we have baptisms, we commission these new Christians into action:
“You have now been baptized into God’s family today and have the Holy Spirit living within you. The same power that flowed through Jesus Christ, the same power that rose Him from the dead, the same Spirit that dwells with God and has immeasurable power, now lives in you. You now are called today, right now, to go reproduce authentic Christians and my hope and prayer for your life is that you will stand up here again one day soon, baptizing someone you discipled, just as these believers have done for you. You are ready and we are sending you out now.”
Our mission to make disciples begins day one. Not when we know more. Not when we feel ready. Not when we feel like it or feel called to ministry. ALL Christians are called to make disciples when we come out of that water. You may not feel ready, but the Spirit within you is ready to speak when you may not know the words.
Step 3: Repeating
This is the challenge to all our authentic Christians. His mission becomes our mission. We go in obedience and love because He has given us all we need to share our faith and to love others as He first loved us.
And our hope is to saturate Cottage Grove and all of southern Lane County with the love of Christ. We want to take responsibility of the task to personally communicate and demonstrate the gospel to everyone we meet. Our hope and prayer is that this area will be a light in the valley so that no one would miss out in hearing the name of Jesus.
And as we continue our mission, the desire would be for all people to come and be baptized into God’s family. And as more come to Him, we have more workers in the harvest to reach the next field ripe for the harvest.