Book of Order (F-1.01 God’s Mission)
The good news of the Gospel is that the triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – creates, redeems, sustains, rules, and transforms all things and all people. This one living God, the Scriptures say, liberated the people of Israel from oppression and covenanted to be their God. By the power of the Spirit, this one living God is incarnate in Jesus Christ, who came to live in the world, die for the world, and be raised again to new life. The Gospel of Jesus Christ announces the nearness of God’s kingdom, bringing good news to all who are empowered, sight to all who are blind, freedom to all who are oppressed, and proclaiming the Lord’s favor upon all creation…
Wow! The good news of the Gospel carries a lot of weight… It calls upon the words, Paul’s to the Corinthians when he writes, “If I proclaim the gospel, this gives me no ground for boasting, for an obligation is laid on me, and woe to me if I do not proclaim the gospel! For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward; but if not of my own will, I am entrusted with a commission. What then is my reward? Just this: that in my proclamation I may make the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my rights in the gospel.” (I Corinthians 9:16-17) The Gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ, means that the Church has a responsibility to respond to the gifts it has been given. It means that we are to care for the sick, liberate the oppressed, care for creation, and participate in the redemptive work that God is continually doing. The question is, “Are we faithfully living out this faith that comes with such an obligation/commission?”
I’ve been asked a number of times in my life, why I think the Church is in decline, why younger people are going to church anymore (more specifically their church), and what we can do to correct the current trends in membership and attendance… Honestly, I don’t think I ever give a response that is satisfying or what they were looking for, because for me those questions need to begin with what is at the heart of things that we are doing. This means that we shouldn’t address the “cosmetic” issues that we are facing, but take a serious look at our inner spiritual and physical disciplines. Taking a critical assessment of the things that we have done isn’t easy, but it is freeing when we are able to discover that we can let some things go in order to be more faithful disciples of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Reformed tradition has a saying, “The Church reformed, always reforming.” The things that we hold onto aren’t always required for spreading the gift we have been given. As the opening of our Book of Order states, “The Gospel of Jesus Christ announces the nearness of God’s kingdom, bringing good news to all who are empowered, sight to all who are blind, freedom to all who are oppressed, and proclaiming the Lord’s favor upon all creation.” How will we be a community of faith that lives faithfully into task we have received? Will we let go of some things in order to become the Church that is for all people? Will we be open to the Holy Spirit and its guidance in our lives? It’s an open ended question, but a question that sits at the heart of believers across space and time.