Pastor Corey Widmer
Dear Third Family,
In the light of recent decisions by the Supreme Court, it’s clear that we are living in a unique period of history. Before our very eyes, our culture is moving from a generally Christian culture to a post-Christian culture. Viewpoints that just a few decades ago were considered unthinkable are now not only broadly accepted but even codified by the law. To some this is cause for great celebration, but for others, including those who hold to the historic Christian faith, it may be a time of grief, loss, and circumspection about our role and call in society.
I do not want to downplay the sense of loss and sadness that many of us feel. There is a genuine reason to grieve when what has been so familiar to us is eroding. There is also good reason for us to be wise and strategic about what challenges lie before us and how we might respond. But for now, I want to focus briefly on the opportunity this moment in history presents for us as followers of Jesus. I believe it is a moment of great opportunity, perhaps a greater opportunity than the Western Church has possessed in a long time.
Just one skim of the book of Acts reveals that the earliest Christians were out of step with the surrounding society. They lived as religious and ethical minorities under the governance of an oppressive state that did not share or support their worldview. Indeed, they suffered at the hands of the authorities, and their leaders ultimately were executed much like their Lord. And yet, the church flourished more than at any other time in its history, shining like stars in a world that needed hope. They lived courageously, hopefully, and joyfully, looking not to the government but to God for the support and strength they needed to be faithful to their calling.
Could it be that we are entering into a period more like the earliest centuries of the church? This is what we mean when we speak of the “missional church.” “Missional” indicates the shift from seeing the church as an institution in a Christian society to a community in mission in a non-Christian society. Rather than seeing “mission” as just one activity or department of the church, God is calling us to re-discover our fundamental identity as missionaries in the society around us.
What will it mean for us to embrace our missional identity? It will mean approaching our everyday lives and work as opportunities to spread the gospel in word and deed. It will mean being willing to accept alienation and even persecution at times for our beliefs. It will mean that the church can no longer be a Sunday religious activity, but must become a deep, counter-cultural community in which wealth and possessions, sex and family, racial identity and power are all practiced in godly and attractive ways. It will mean the call to love our neighbors and love our enemies is a very real possibility every single day.
Family, I am excited about this. The church has always flourished the most as a life-giving minority, not a political majority. There is great opportunity before us not to do church better on Sundays, but to be the church in a world that truly needs hope. There is nothing to fear, because we cling to the promise of Jesus who said, “I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
So in this year ahead, may we live out counter-cultural community, may we love those we disagree with, may we care for the poor and marginalized, may we give our lives away, may we proclaim the good news with grace and truth. May we follow Jesus together with all the strength the Spirit gives.
And maybe, just maybe, we will be part of a holy revolution of grace.