WHY IS REDEMPTION CHURCH HERE?
As we think about replanting our church, we must ask ourselves the very basic question, “What is the church actually for?” “Of all institutions, why does God value the church so very much?” “Why is our church here?” C.S. Lewis said,
“It is easy to think that the Church has a lot of different objects — education, building, missions holding services. Just as it is easy to think the State has a lot of different objects — military, political, economic, and what not. But in a way things are much simpler than that. The State exists simply to promote and protect the ordinary happiness of human beings in this life. A husband and wife chatting over a fire, a couple of friends having a game of darts in a pub. A man reading a book in his own room, or digging in his own garden–that is what the State is there for. And unless they are helping to increase and prolong and protect such moments, all the laws, parliaments, armies, courts, police, economics, etc., are simply a waste of time. In the same way the Church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs. If they
are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. God became Man for no other purpose. It is even doubtful, you know, whether the whole universe was created for any other purpose.”
The Church is the people of God who belong to him through the death and resurrection of Christ. We are those filled with the Holy Spirit, sent out to be the salt of the earth and light of the world! We are the redeemed and our purpose is to serve one another, magnify Jesus, promote human flourishing in the world, and call others to faith and repentance. God values the Church because she is the bride of Christ. Our church is here because God willed us to exist as Redemption. By grace, we have qualified leadership, proclaim the Scriptures, and administer the sacraments. We are here responding to God and the gospel and offering our lives in faithful presence to him. Our church is here because God has called us to make disciples (Matt. 28:19) and this includes both growing in grace and knowledge as well as to share the gospel with our neighbors. We are called to take the gospel message into our city through our relationships with our neighbors and coworkers. That’s why we’re here! We want to know Jesus and make him known.
As we think about replanting Redemption, we need to do this now while we are still in our current state of restrictions instead of simply waiting until later. Let’s be the prepared church! The anticipatory church! The expectant church! One simple way to begin this is simply to participate on Sundays in worship. Many are participating on Sundays in our Digital Liturgies at 10:00 AM. At the same time, many are tuning in later in the week and some not at all. I want to call us back to making Sunday worship a real priority for those who are waning or have wandered in this way. The writer of Hebrews admonishes us to “not neglect the gathering of the saints” (Heb. 10:25). Certainly online is far from ideal, but it is nonetheless what our “gathering” looks like for the time being. I want to encourage you to get up on Sunday, prepare your mind and heart to worship, and participate on Sunday mornings in worship. Sing! Pray! Read! Participate! Reach out to your friends and connect at some point during the day on Sundays to check in on others. Think of one person you could text a link to an invite them to join us online or join in person on Sunday mornings. Don’t put it off. Go for it!
Faithful Presence: A Response
Redemption Church is striving to remain faithfully present in our relationship with God, Self, and Others. Our vision is birthed out of a response to God and the gospel. We are not attempting to live moral lives in an attempt to earn salvation. Far from it! We are the recipients of the grace of God are simply responding to that reality by the work of Holy Spirit. Sociologist James Davison Hunter writes,
“The very character of God and the heart of his Word is that God is fully and faithfully present to us. On the face of it, faithful presence suggests proximity, but it is much more than this. His faithful presence is an expression of commitment marked by .... Pursuit, identification, the offer of life through sacrificial love — this is what God’s faithful presence means. It is a quality of commitment that is active, not passive; intentional, not accidental; covenantal, not contractual. In the life of Christ we see how it entailed his complete attention. It is wholehearted, not half-hearted; focused and purposeful, nothing desultory about it. His very name, Immanuel, signifies all of this — “God with us” — in our presence (Matt. 1:23).
As we replant Redemption, we are going to consistently put an emphasis on our vision and this means that we are going to have to repeatedly emphasize the value, beauty and glory found in the slow, tedious, and often mundane work of Spiritual Formation. Paul stated that he labored “to present everyone mature in Christ” (Col. 1:28). Maturity involves paying attention to your whole life–your mental, emotional, psychological, spiritual, and relational way of being in the church and world. This is no small thing! Brennan Manning said, “For me the most radical demand of Christian faith lies in summoning the courage to say yes to the present risenness of Jesus Christ.”