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Our World belongs to God - VIII

 

 

The Mission of God's People

41. Joining the mission of God,
the church is sent
with the gospel of the kingdom
to call everyone to know and follow Christ
and to proclaim to all
the assurance that in the name of Jesus
there is forgiveness of sin
and new life for all who repent and believe.
The Spirit calls all members
to embrace God’s mission
in their neighborhoods
and in the world:
to feed the hungry,
bring water to the thirsty,
welcome the stranger,
clothe the naked,
care for the sick,
and free the prisoner.
We repent of leaving this work to a few,
for this mission is central to our being.

On our part in God’s mission, see Matthew 28:18-20, Luke 14:45-49, and John 17:18; on seeing our mission beyond our local community, Matthew 24:14 and Acts 13:1-3; on meeting the needs of people, Matthew 25:31-46 and Luke 4:18-19; and on the centrality of mission to our being, John 20:21.

42. In a world estranged from God,
where happiness and peace are offered in many names
and millions face confusing choices,
we witness—
with respect for followers of other ways—
to the only one in whose name salvation is found:
Jesus Christ.
In Jesus, God reconciles the world to himself.
God loves all creation;
his compassion knows no bounds.

On the exclusive claims of Christ, see John 14:6 and Acts 4:12; on God’s love and compassion for the world, see Matthew 9:36-38 and John 3:16.

43. Jesus Christ rules over all.
To follow this Lord is
to serve him wherever we are
without fitting in,
light in darkness,
salt in a spoiling world.

On the rule of Christ over the whole world, see Philippians 2:9-11, Colossians 1:15-20, and Revelation 11:15; on being light, salt, and not fitting in, see Matthew 5:13-16 and Romans 12:1-2.

44. Life is a gift from God’s hand,
who created all things.

Receiving this gift thankfully,
with reverence for the Creator,
we protest and resist
all that harms, abuses, or diminishes the gift of life,
whether by abortion, pollution, gluttony,
addiction, or foolish risks.
Because it is a sacred trust,
we treat all life with awe and respect,
especially when it is most vulnerable—
whether growing in the womb,
touched by disability or disease,
or drawing a last breath.
When forced to make decisions
at life’s raw edges,
we seek wisdom in community,
guided by God’s Word and Spirit.

On respect for all life, see Deuteronomy 5:17 and Psalm 104:14-30 and 139:14-16. Our very bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit: 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.

45. Since God made us male and female in his image,
we respect each other as equals,
not flaunting or exploiting our sexuality.
While our roles and capacities may differ,
we are careful not to confine God’s gifts and calling
to the shape of our cultural patterns or expectations.
Sexuality is disordered in our fallen world—
brokenness, abuse, pornography, and loneliness are the result—
but Christ's renewing work gives hope
for order and healing
and surrounds suffering persons
with compassionate community.

Male and female, we are all made in God’s image: Genesis 1:26-27 and Galatians 3:27. On sexual disorder as a result of sin, see Romans 1:24 and 1 Corinthians 6:15-20.

46. We are the family of God,
serving Christ together in Christian community.
Single for a time or a life,
devoted to the work of God,
we offer our love and service
to the building of the kingdom.
Married, in relationships of lifelong loyalty,
we offer our lives to the same work:
building the kingdom,
teaching and modeling the ways of the Lord
so our children may know
Jesus as Lord
and learn to use their gifts
in lives of joyful service.
In friendship and family life,
singleness and marriage,
as parents and children,
we reflect the covenant love of God.
We lament the prevalence of divorce
and of selfish individualism in our societies.
We belong to God.

See the apostle Paul’s discussion of singleness and marriage in 1 Corinthians 7. On the importance of teaching and modeling the ways of the Lord, see Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Proverbs 22:6, and Ephesians 6:1- 4. Jesus’ teaching on divorce is found in Matthew 19:1-12 and Mark 10:1-12. That we together reflect the love of God is taught in John 13:34-35 and all of 1 John.

47. Serving the Lord
in whom all things hold together,
we support sound education in our communities,
and we foster schools and teaching
in which God’s truth shines in all learning.
All students,
without regard to abilities, race, or wealth,
bear God's image
and deserve an education
that helps them use their gifts fully.

For the importance of education, see Deuteronomy 6:1-9 and Proverbs 4:1-9; for the need for God’s light, Psalm 119:105; for the central place of Christ, Colossians 1:17; for equal acceptance, James 2:1-13.

48. Our work is a calling from God.
We work for more than wages
and manage for more than profit
so that mutual respect
and the just use of goods and skills
may shape the workplace.
While we earn or profit,
we love our neighbors by providing
useful products and services.
In our global economy
we advocate meaningful work
and fair wages for all.
Out of the Lord’s generosity to us,
we give freely and gladly
of our money and time.

For the place of work, see Genesis 2:15, Exodus 20:9, Ephesians 6:5-9, and 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13; for justice in the workplace, Ezekiel 34 and James 5:1-5; for generosity, 2 Corinthians 9 and 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12.

49. Rest and leisure are gifts from God
that relax us and set us free
to discover and to explore.
But we confess
that often our addiction to busyness
allows our tools and toys to invade our rest
and that an internet world with its temptations
distorts our leisure.
Reminding each other that
our Maker rested and gave us rest,
we seek to rest more trustingly
and to entertain ourselves more simply.

For rest, see Genesis 2:2-3 and Deuteronomy 5:12-15; for the discriminating use of leisure, Philippians 4:8-9 and Ephesians 4:17-32.

50. Grateful for advances
in science and technology,
we participate in their development,
fostering care for creationand respect for the gift of life.
We welcome discoveries that prevent or cure diseases
and that help support healthy lives.
We respect embryonic life,
approaching each new discovery,
whether of science or of medical technique,
with careful thought,
seeking the will of God.

In Genesis 1:28-31 and 9:1-7, God gives to humanity the right and responsibility to develop and care for creation; for a reflection on the limitations of human technology and need for divine wisdom, see Job 28; for the continuing goodness of creation and the need for a prayerful approach to what we use of it, see 1 Timothy 4:4-5.

51. We lament that our abuse of creation
has brought lasting damage
to the world we have been given:
polluting streams and soil,
poisoning the air,
altering the climate,
and damaging the earth.
We commit ourselves
to honor all God’s creatures
and to protect them from abuse and extinction,
for our world belongs to God.

Genesis 1:28-29; 7:1-5; Psalm 8; and Romans 8:18-25 teach that we are entrusted with caring for the earth.

52. We obey God first;
we respect the authorities that rule,
for they are established by God:
we pray for our rulers,
and we work to influence governments—
resisting them only when Christ and conscience demand.
We are thankful for the freedoms
enjoyed by citizens of many lands;
we grieve with those who live under oppression,
and we seek for them the liberty to live without fear.

Romans 13:1-7 teaches respect for governing authorities (see also 1 Peter 2:13-17); Revelation 13 illustrates government gone wrong. Colossians 1:16 teaches that authority and power come from Christ; Ephesians 6:12 warns us that authority and power can become infected by evil.

53. We call on all governments to do public justice
and to protect the rights and freedoms
of individuals, groups, and institutions
so that each may do their tasks.
We urge governments and pledge ourselves
to safeguard children and the elderly
from abuse and exploitation,
to bring justice to the poor and oppressed,
and to promote the freedom
to speak, work, worship, and associate.

That governments are called to justice generally and that how a government treats the poor and the weak is a key indicator of a society’s commitment to justice is taught in all the prophets and in psalms like Psalm 72.

54. Followers of the Prince of Peace
are called to be peacemakers,
promoting harmony and order
and restoring what is broken.
We call on our governments to work for peace
and to restore just relationships.
We deplore the spread of weapons
in our world and on our streets
with the risks they bring
and the horrors they threaten.
We call on all nations to reduce their arsenals
to what is needed
in the defense of justice and freedom.
We pledge to walk in ways of peace,
confessing that our world belongs to God;
he is our sure defense.

Isaiah 2:1-4 expresses God’s will for peace, and Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers . . .” (Matthew 5:9).

Our World belongs to God - X

Our World Belongs to God

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