What we value most reflects what we are as individuals and as a church.
Members of our denomination are diverse in age, social and cultural background. We come from different parts of the of world. Members live in all the world's inhabited continents. We are rich, poor, old, young, male, female.
But despite all our differences, we have something very deep and personal in common. Ultimately, what we share has to be experienced to be really understood. A young woman who is a member in England write this:
"One example stands out in my mind. Two years ago, I visited the island nation of Sri Lanka. The environment couldn't have been more different from England, where I grew up. My childhood memories are of hills and trees, gray winter days and mild springs. Here were lagoons and crocodiles, palms, temples and tea plantations. The sun shone all day and the rain fell in tropical bursts. Socially and culturally, it was another world.
Yet despite all the differences, I sat and talked with an elderly lady - a church member who lived with her handicapped son in the capital city of Colombo. Our conversation was wonderful, not because of how we differed but because of what we had in common. We weren't just curious or comparing cultures. We were able to look at the experience of life from a similar perspective.
A Shared Perspective
This young member's experience isn't unusual. Many people comment about this shared perspective on things that matter the most to us. Christian values do not depend on age, gender, time and place, because they are beyond such barriers - they deal with the spirit.
It has been said that brothers and sisters are not always born under the same roof, meaning that those who are truly family do not necessarily share the same parents. We recognize one another in other ways - by matters of the spirit, by what we value. Our friends may be closer to us than our physical brothers and sisters may be.
|"Be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you." 2 Corinthians 13:11|
We Value Our Calling
Whatever our age, background or position in life, the most precious gift each of us has is our relationship with God. We base our lives on our bond with God. We value the Bible, for example, because we believe that through these inspired writings of human beings, God shows us who he is. Not that we ever understand him fully, but we learn as we go along. Here and there we glimpse a God so much greater than anything we had ever imagined, that we can never look at the world in quite the same way again.
And as we learn about God, we learn to value his qualities in our lives. We value compassion, because we see God's compassion for us. We value forgiveness, because we have been forgiven. We value fairness, because we know God is ultimately fair. We value peace, variety, truth and freedom.
As these qualities become more and more part of us, they start to define who we are. The nature of Christ is being formed in us (Galatians 2:20; 4:19). As we show love to one another, God's love is made complete in us (1 John 4:12).
We Value Christ's Sacrifice
God sent Jesus to this earth to live, suffer and die in our stead. Jesus, being both fully God and fully man, willingly died for us. John 3:16 tells us that he did this so that we may have eternal life. Christ's shed blood covers our sins and allows us access to the Father. Only through Christ's sacrifice are we given grace.
The sacrifice made on our behalf is a value the church takes seriously and gratefully. We commemorate Christ's sacrifice by observing the Lord's Supper, and by allowing God to change us to be more like his Son. God's love, as demonstrated by this sacrifice, is truly unfathomable.
We Value One Another
God has created and chosen each of his children. He sent his Son in order that we may live. This gives us the deepest possible reason to value one another. Because God loved each one of us enough to give us life, and to redeem that life for a wonderful purpose, we value all human beings.
We Value Our Future
Last but not least, we value the future. Not simply for ourselves, but because we are not an exclusive club. God loves all the people he created. We long for the time when the knowledge of God will fill the earth as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14).
It is this hope we hang onto when we look around us and see so much suffering. We know that God can be with us in our suffering now, and he is. But we also know that suffering itself is not a permanent state of affairs. The time is coming when tears and heartache will disappear from our battered planet. Even death is not the end of the story.
This is a vision no political party can promise, and no human organization can ever fulfill. People have given their lives for far less wonderful causes than the future that God has promised his people.
Our values, then - the ones that really matter to us - are based on our faith in Jesus Christ. God gave his Son so that we might have grace. He gave us the Bible that we might understand the truth about his Son. He sent the Holy Spirit that we might be sanctified.
We are in many ways rather ordinary people. If you are looking for perfect people, you won't find them in our church. We make mistakes. We are weak and foolish at times. But we have been given the greatest gift imaginable, and our lives have been changed forever.