Changed Lives Change the City
Redeemer’s vision is to see a city renewed by the gospel. To see that vision become a reality, people who are not Christian have to encounter the gospel. And for people to encounter the gospel, we who have the joy and hope of knowing Christ must share that joy and hope with the people in our lives. Or as you may have heard the phrase — “live out the gospel.” But what does it mean to live out the gospel? It can be helpful to think of three levels of “living out.” At the first level, we simply live in a way that reflects our identity as children of God: to always be looking for ways to treat people around us with kindness and respect. To be curious about their lives, to listen well, and be generous with them as we’re able. It is a seasoning of the gospel into our everyday routines. This is living out the gospel at a level that many Chritians are typically comfortable with and capable of doing.
Then there is what we could call a second level where we engage with people in our lives who don’t identify as Christian. We seek to have deep, meaningful relationships with these friends. We pray for them regularly and we make time for them, share meals with them, and invite them into our lives. We don’t hide the fact that we are Christians, and in ordinary ways demonstrate how our faith shapes us. It could be as simple as mentioning that we attend church. This requires a more intentional investment of our time and energy and allows us to demonstrate the hope and joy we have in the way we approach life’s twists and turns. Based on past Redeemer surveys over 50% of regular attendees for our Redeemer churches do this.
The third level of living out the gospel is where we are actively finding ways to share our faith with friends who are not Christian. We may invite them to read a book with us, listen to a talk, attend an event, or even join a bible study with others who don’t identify as Christian. We do not do this alone, but with much prayer, and a praying community. This requires hopefulness and a vulnerability that can be challenging for most of us. But this third level of living out the gospel is critical to our vision for a renewed city. And yet when we look at past Redeemer survey results only about 8-17% of regular attendees at our Redeemer churches do this with regularity.
As we are changed by the gospel we naturally bring positive change and renewal to those around us.
When we reflect on the challenges of actually sharing our faith there are many barriers to doing it regularly and doing it well. One way we can become better prepared is by preaching the gospel to ourselves with regularity. To reflect on how broken and in need of a savior we are and how wonderfully and beautifully we are loved and adopted as children of God through Christ’s sacrifice. If we preach the gospel to ourselves it changes us and reminds us of the incredible joy and hope we have in Christ. As the gospel changes us, God works through us to change others.
We also gain confidence as the Holy Spirit shapes us through regular time in God’s word and through Christian community. As we engage in spiritual practices like prayer and Bible reading, as we embrace rich community with others to be encouraged and shaped, and as we invest ourselves in the unique callings God has given each of us, the gospel makes its way deeper into our hearts and transforms our lives. When we grow in these areas — daily practices, investing in community and pursuing the things God calls us to do — the joy of the gospel springs out in our relationships and it manifests itself in us and through us in the places we live and work. As we are changed by the gospel, then we can naturally bring positive change and renewal to those around us. As God works through us to change lives, we see more of the city influenced by the hope and joy of the gospel.
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