The Gospel Changes Everything (Pt. 10): Relationships

We're in a series where we're seeing how the gospel of Jesus affects every area of our lives. Each post will look at how the truth of the gospel changes how we view a certain aspect of life and its implications in our lives.

In this blog series we've been trying to show practical application for the gospel. Many of us who've been at Hiawatha Church for a while do understand the good news of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection but it can be tough work to understand how the gospel actually affects the different areas of our life. That is the goal of this series: to begin to show specific examples of the gospel affecting all the areas of our lives. None of these posts will be exhaustive by any means but we hope they'll begin to help us see the power of the gospel to change every area of our lives. 

"The gospel [in the New Testament] is regularly presented not only as truth to be received and believed, but the very power of God to transform (see 1 Corinthians 2, 1 Thessalonians 2:4, Romans 1:16-17)...One of the most urgently needed things today is a careful treatment of how the gospel, biblically and richly understood, ought to shape everything we do in the local church, all of our ethics, all of our priorities." -D.A. Carson. 

The power of the gospel transforms how we view relationships. Apart from the gospel, our temptation is either to value relationship too much: they give us our full identity and worth (or what Tim Keller calls moralism). Or we value relationships too little: I'm self-sufficient and independent and I need no one (or what Keller calls relativism). 

"Moralism can...cause people to procure love as the way to earn salvation; gaining love convinces them that they are worthy persons. This, in turn, often creates codependency-you must save yourself by saving others. On the other hand, much relativism reduces love to a negotiated partnership for mutual benefit. You relate only as long as it does not cost you anything. Without the gospel, the choice is to selfishly use others or to selfishly let yourself be used by others." -Tim Keller. 

We can probably sympathize with both of these and maybe are tempted today to view relationships in both these ways. But the gospel changes how we view our relationship with others. No longer do we need others to give us an identity (as a mom, a friend, a boss, etc.) because we are given a new identity in Christ, an identity connected to someone who will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). 

In the gospel, we've been chosen, accepted, desired, and kept in Christ, all by God! So we don't need to look outside to other relationships for that identity and meaning. It sure is great to have a church family, friends, siblings, parents, colleagues, and kids love us and want us in their lives. But because of the gospel, we don't have to use those relationships. And if for some sad reason we lose any of those relationships, we're not devastated or destroyed because we know the God of the universe calls us his adopted and wanted child!

And no longer do we need to fear relationships that cost us. Through the gospel we can now move towards people who won't reciprocate our love (at least not at first). Just as Christ denied his own preferences, desires, and even his own rights to become our friend, we too can move towards people and demonstrate that powerful Christlike love. 

I recently was talking to a couple in our Community Group about this. We were sharing how because of the gospel we're able to give up our preferences and wants when we gather. Every aspect of our time together doesn't have to focus on me, what I want, or even what I need. We can spend a whole Community Group gathering pouring into other people, sharing our knowledge/wisdom with others, and sacrificially serving others and it STILL be a successful evening. Through Christ's Spirit in us, we can even find great joy and fulfillment in sacrifice for the sake of others rather than ourselves.  

Because of the gospel, "we selflessly sacrifice and commit, but not out of a need to convince ourselves or others that we are acceptable. We can love a person enough to confront, yet stay with the person even when it does not benefit us." -Tim Keller. It is this same Spirit-empowered Jesus-like love that we see in Stephen's forgiveness of those who're murdering him. 

Because of the gospel, we've been given new Christ-like minds and are able to humbly count others more significant than ourselves and look to the interests and needs of other over our own (Phil. 2:3-4).  When we remember that Jesus did this for us in his life and especially on the cross, it allows us to honestly love others without expecting something in response. 

SPENCER PETERSON / COMMUNITY LIFE PASTOR

Living on Mission in Our City This Summer

Welcome to Summer in Minnesota! There is nothing like it. Between the music festivals, weekends at the cabin, late night patio seating at your favorite pub/restaurant, and exploring all our city has to offer, it is one of the best times of year that school kids and adults alike look forward to. 

And even though summers may look different (youth are off of school, most of us take vacations, we move to just one service on Sundays, Community Groups and HLI takes a break, etc.), the Church’s mission of making disciples (and ours as an extension) continues. 

Below are some ideas for us as individuals, community groups, or as a church to live on mission this summer. Minnesotans come out of hibernating, yards are full of neighbors, students aren’t in classes, and the lakes, parks, and streets are full of people. “Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity” -Ephesians 5:15-16. 

Hiawatha Church, let’s be used by Jesus this summer!

  • Holidays/Celebrations: host a party or get together with a group of friends to attend one of our many summer festivities: Memorial Day, 4th of July, National Night Out, Longfellow Corn Feed, State Fair, Open Streets, outdoor movies, and countless festivals, concerts, and activities across the city.
  • Sign your kid(s) up for a sport or activity at one of the local parks. Then show up. Meet other parents. Connect with other families. Want more ideas about connecting youth sports in the park system with missional living? Contact one of our locally supported ministries: R.O.C.K.
  • What are you good at or excited about? Host it at your home or in your yard. Whether it is an acoustic concert on your deck or porch, a lawn game tournament, a stop on the Lolo art crawl, or an outdoor movie, connect your passion and talents with opportunities to build relationships. 
  • Host a neighborhood BBQ: invite those you know and use this as an easy excuse to show hospitality and meet neighbors you haven’t yet.
  • Enjoy our local green spaces (here's our local favorite). Meet new people or meet up with friends and neighbors. 
  • Invite someone out for lunch after a Sunday service. 
  • Get or make a fire pit: invite people over to make smores and have great conversations deep into the night.
  • Visit your local Farmer’s Market: go often and to the same vendors, learning their names, and building a relationship with them as well as participate in the community that many Farmer’s Markets create.
  • Join a local garden (if you don’t already have one in your yard). There are a number of them in South Minneapolis. There will be lots of opportunities to meet people as you garden alongside others. 
  • Finally, join your church family in prayer. Every Thursday morning this summer, starting June 1st, we will be gathering for prayer with a missional focus. We'll gather at 6:30 am at the church building (and often walk through our neighborhood). We passionately believe that God is the one who saves, melts hearts of stone, and raises the spiritually dead. So as we desire to see our city transformed with the gospel, we start with prayer. Join us as we pray for more conversions,  for God to use us and bless our neighborhood and city, for current and future church plants, and for mission in general. 

Through the power of the Spirit, let’s be a church (individually and corporately) that intentionally moves into our city this summer to reach those who don’t yet know the saving power of Jesus!

SPENCER PETERSON / COMMUNITY LIFE PASTOR

The Gospel Changes Everything (Pt. 9): Leadership

We're in a series where we're seeing how the gospel of Jesus affects every area of our lives. Each post will look at how the truth of the gospel changes how we view a certain aspect of life and its implications in our lives.

There is a story of two of Jesus' disciples (James and John) who get in a heated argument. Each of them wants to sit next to Jesus when he ushers in his kingdom. They want to sit to the right and left of Jesus' throne. They want to sit in the seats of honor, power, and leadership. When the other ten disciples hear that these two disciples asked Jesus for these spots, they were annoyed and resentful of James and John. 

James and John didn't get it. Leadership, power, and authority look different in Jesus' kingdom. Through the gospel, leadership is different. Although desiring leadership is a good thing, Jesus redefines what it is and how it looks. This is how he responds to them. 

Jesus called them over and said to them, "You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles dominate them, and their men of high positions exercise power over them. But it must not be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be a slave to all." -Mark 10:42-44

Jesus says that leadership in his kingdom is going to look starkly different than leadership in the world. Others use their leadership, power, and authority to dominate others. But Jesus counters that by saying his followers will view and use leadership completely differently. They will lead by serving others. They will use their power to build up others. They will become great not through making people respect them but through seeing others' needs as more important than their own. 

Now when Jesus gives a command alone, we should listen, right? He is God. But it doesn't just stop there. Jesus doesn't only say I'm making a new rule here about leadership. In the very next verse he says, For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life - a ransom for many." (Mark 10:45). 

So the reason that leadership is different among Jesus' followers is because our Lord and Savior first did this for us. He was and is the greatest leader, the King of kings, the Lord of every "lowercase L" lord in the world, the one who has ultimate authority and power. Yet he chose to come as a servant. He demonstrated to us that leadership in his kingdom is servant leadership, it's sacrificial leadership, it's life-denying leadership with the focus on the other. 

Jesus came not to be served by us, even though he deserves it. Jesus came not to dominate us with his power and authority, though he rightfully could have. Jesus came with the mission to serve humanity. The way he was going to accomplish that was through denying his own wants, needs, and rights by dying in our place in order to ransom us back from the slavery of sin and death. 

This is the gospel! This is why Christians view leadership differently. Not just because Jesus said it but also because he demonstrated it for our sake. So when we lead sacrificially as servant leaders, we demonstrate a Savior who first did this for us. When we use our power to bless others rather than ourselves, we embody the gospel of a Lord who first did this for us. 

"Christian leadership, like no other kind, with the posture of a servant aims to cultivate the world so others can flourish according to God's design." -Geiger and Peck. Leadership for Christians is others-focused because Jesus' leadership was that way. He led by dying, so that we could live. 

SPENCER PETERSON / COMMUNITY LIFE PASTOR