After putting my nephew down for his nap, I decided to dive into my church’s constitution (yes, I’m a total geek and readily admit it!) I was struck by the vision and purpose statement and realized I needed to delve deeper into the spirit of the words and in doing so came to a greater love and understanding for my church.
“The purpose of Evergreen Community Church is to make passionate followers of Jesus Christ through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.” My translation is- the purpose of the church is to help people change their lives. Assuming the church teaches them that change is needed and that spiritual growth matters in everyday life, people can have transformed lives through the power of the Holy Spirit. The guiding verses are Isaiah 61:1-3 and Matthew 28:18-20.
Before I was transformed by Evergreen Community Church, and developed a relationship with God, I lived a pretty boring life: hanging with my friends, usually at a club or the local sports bar, going to movies, eatin’, spendin’ and zoning out. No real point to any of it. As much as I like to think I’m special, I don’t think my life was very different than many individuals out there since the average American household has the television on for 6 hours and 47 minutes per day (http://www.csun.edu/science/health/docs/tv&health.html) and the obesity rate in Minnesota is almost 25% (http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/trends.html .) Yeah… I think I lived a pretty “normal” life. I still hang with my friends, still go out to eat and hit up a movie but the difference is I don’t do it to zone out, I don’t procrastinate on my responsibilities as a Christian and I don’t fear failure (nearly as much) which allows me a useful and fairly sane life.
“The vision of Evergreen Community Church is to share the story of Jesus with relevance, imagination, compassion and excellence, inviting others to the foot of the cross where we will encounter God in faith, grow together in hope, and learn to live together in love.”
The words which jump out at me are FAITH, HOPE and LOVE. These seem to be the Core Principles of ECC. Just like in 1 Corinthians 13:13 “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” As Christians, our greatest responsibility is to love others the way God intends us to…the kicker is that God gave us free will and because of this we have a choice whether or not to love. That is why it is so powerful when we enter into a life of meaning and start practicing loving others through relationships, and for me, a lot of trial and error. In 1 Timothy 1:14 it states, “Grace mixed with love and faith poured over me and into me. And all because of Jesus.” I need to be reminded that as a changed person I cannot judge, that if I call myself a Christian I need to strive toward love. I am thankful and grateful for the patience and grace of my church as I learn to love and grow in faith. To Love and not judge is an easy choice when hanging out with a napping baby.