Laurence Cooper unpacks the new mission and vision statements for the Jesus Army.
Gather a people whose lives are being transformed by Jesus.
The person and name of Jesus Christ is of unparalleled importance. His name towers infinitely higher than every other name in significance and worth. This is because Jesus is the rescuing, saving power of God, and his name means “God saves”. As it says in Acts: “Salvation can be found in no one else. Throughout the whole world, no other name has been given among humans through which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
The church is composed of people, gathered by God, who are being saved from sin and death by the name of Jesus. He came into our lives, sometimes when we least expected it; as one writer said, “I was ambushed by Jesus Christ”. He takes the initiative. Only because he has touched our lives can we know true and eternal life.
Our vision is to link with others who know the saving work of Jesus. We gather together as a group of people who are exploring what it means to know God, who transforms us all into vivid, vibrant reflections of His own great glory. We live to proclaim His wonderful name: Jesus Christ is Lord!
We value and accept all people. We are available and listen to them, showing love in practical ways.
How can we say we really love people if we do nothing to meet their needs? If we have no time to sit and have a coffee with them and let them unburden themselves? Our faith is meaningless if unaccompanied by care and action. Real faith and love is eminently practical and involves taking the time to listen.
Jesus Christ is Almighty God, but he wasn't too busy running the universe to sit and talk to the woman at the well or to welcome and bless little children, even if His bumptious disciples thought he was far too important for all that.
Jesus comes down to our level and takes pleasure in our company. He considers this is time well spent because He values every individual and cares for their needs. Should we not, like Him, make time in our busy lives to connect with people? Let our priorities reflect those of our kind hearted Master.
We create relationships in which people will discover their new identity as followers of Jesus.
Jesus called a band of brothers around him and taught them what it meant to be citizens of his kingdom. These men were joined by women like Mary, who the scripture says 'sat at Jesus' feet' - the posture of a learner - captivated by Jesus' remarkable life and words. These were the first disciples, trainees of the Master, learning what it meant to be the new people of God. Jesus poured His love into them, and at times could be straight down the line.
Like Jesus, we are relationship-makers. We gather people around us and share what we have learned of the heart of Christ. None of us is like Him entirely, but we each reflect something of His glory.
We will laugh with people, sharing the joy that bubbles up from the Spirit living in us. At times, we'll weep together when troubles come. Our full-orbed relationships will promote the healing of our personalities as we discover that we are a new creation family, joined forever in the Spirit of God.
Our lifestyle of worship, word, works, and witness proclaims our togetherness and that we are a people of peace.
Take Ralph, the man on the sofa. He's no ordinary bloke. He's chill enough on the sofa, but there's more to it than just relaxation. Spiritual peace like a river runs through his heart. His spirituality expresses itself in his hard graft, the encouragement he speaks and the way he shares Jesus confidently with others.
That's the way it has to be if we're following Jesus. It's a whole life, round-the-clock experience where the living God invades our waking and dreaming reality. Jesus Christ is the centre which our world revolves around.
Jesus is knocking at the door. He's calling out: “I'm here!” There's an undertow of the deepest possible peace, a peace not of this world, that people sometimes comment on. “Such a good vibe in this house!” Naturally, people want to belong to this. God calls them home. The church grows as we live out the life that Christ gives.
We express the call to enter God's kingdom, and challenge people to join us in Spirit filled, purposeful adventure.
“Come, follow me” were the words of Jesus to His first disciples. He called them to leave everything else. Deny yourself, He said. Pick up your cross. Lose your life to gain your life. The challenge that Jesus presents us with could not be clearer or sharper.
The world views Christian faith as weak and tame. It is anything but. To respond to the call of Jesus on our lives means to accept struggle and effort. It is to endure hardship. It is to face fear. It is to undergo temptation and the sting of failure. We must abandon all other distractions to win the victor's crown.
“Everyone will hate you because of me”' said Jesus, “stand firm, and you will win life.” Our challenge to men and women is uncompromising: Give your all to follow Jesus with us. We tone this challenge down at our peril. Someone asked Mother Teresa why so many young women willingly gave their lives to serve the poor with her: “Because I asked everything of them”, she replied.
Among us people will receive the fire of God in their hearts and discover how they can serve His family, the church
There's a funny thing about happiness. If you make it your business to seek the welfare and happiness of others you will receive happiness. We want people to have lives of fulfilled, happy, service. This is not some philosophy of self help; it is centred on our identity as a Spirit-filled Jesus family who love one another.
Our individual lives need to be saturated in God. In Christ we can 'do all things'. We call people to greatness, to excellence. Not the pseudo greatness of fame, bling and mass-produced, instant celebrity. We say “come and fulfil your unique destiny as a child of God” and “come and imitate the greatness of the servant King”.
In all that He did, Jesus excelled in demonstrating the superlative love of God, which lays down its life for its friends. Jesus performed the work of a slave in washing His disciples' feet. Here, today, we are the hands and feet of the Lord Jesus, and He calls us to work with Him in service of His people - and all people. As His servants, we are to be like our master. The greatest among us will be like Him who serves.
Laurence Cooper is a leader in the Jesus Fellowship as well as a volunteer and fundraiser for Coventry Jesus Centre.