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"Can People Find and Follow Jesus Together"
In last week's LeaderLines I laid out the aim of our ministry: that Hillcrest will be a place where northwest Austin can find and follow Jesus together. But someone might ask, "Is this really something that can be done together? Won't we either confuse nonbelievers or slow down believers if we try to find and follow Jesus together?"
One of the biggest misconceptions in churches is that helping people find Jesus and helping people follow Jesus are completely separate processes. People who hold this misconception assume that each group needs a message that the other group doesn't need to hear. In reality, those who want to find Jesus and those who want to follow him both need to hear about the forgiveness of Christ, and they both need to hear about the instructions of Christ.
On the one hand, those who want to find Jesus and those who want to follow him both need to hear about the forgiveness of Christ. Some people would think that the only people who need to hear this are those who are considering Christ, and once we become believers we no longer need to reflect on the message of the cross. But in my twenty-six years as a pastor, I can tell you that lifelong Christians need to hear it as often as do seekers.
Jesus seemed to think so. He commanded us to practice two symbolic rituals: baptism and the Lord's Supper. While baptism takes place at the start of the Christian life, the Lord's Supper takes place throughout the Christian life—but have you ever noticed that baptism and the Lord's Supper both point to the work of the cross? Jesus seemed to think that I will never get to a point of spiritual growth where I don't need to be reminded of what his sacrifice accomplished for me.
On the other hand, those who want to find Jesus and those who want to follow him both need to hear about the instructions of Christ. Some people would think that the only people who need to hear this are those who have embraced Christ, but I've discovered that those considering Christ want this and need this, too.
In fact, teaching the kind of life Christ wants us to live is the best form of evangelism in our world today. People want to know what they're here for, and when we communicate the purpose for human existence, it's incredibly attractive. What's the purpose for existence? You've heard it before. We're here to:
Did you think that the H.I.L.L. acrostic was just to outline what we do "at church"? Not at all! God made us to honor him, invite others to him, love each other, and live his Word. When we fulfill those purposes, we are fulfilled as human beings. So, explaining those purposes is the way we help people find Jesus and the way we help people follow Jesus.
Let me say that again: finding and following Jesus together involves pointing people to the H.I.L.L. that we are meant to climb!
So, finding Jesus and following him can be done together. But the only way that can happen is if we accept wherever someone's "at" while we encourage them to reach the next level.
Did you catch the two verbs? Accept. Encourage. To fulfill our vision, we have to put both into practice.
I'll explain how to do that in next week's LeaderLines.
LeaderLines is a weekly "e-briefing" providing valuable information and inspiration to those who serve at Hillcrest Baptist Church.
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