REPENTANCE AND CHANGE
When the gospel is embraced, it will, over time, transform the whole person, literally renewing our minds, repairing everything in us that is wrong or broken. This is “good news” but not because we are now free to live a reintegrated life for our own purposes. That is an American version of Jesus and a gospel that has no foundation in his teachings or the Scriptures. The Gospel of Jesus is good news because, through Jesus, we’ve been given the opportunity to regain a relationship with God and by that relationship are being enabled to powerfully fulfill our God-given purpose – to display God’s glory and deliver his message of reconciliation to the world – a God-to-human reconciliation and a human-to-human reconciliation. God is about the business of restoring all things. He is doing so through his reconciled people.
Because of the racial divide in our region and our nation, we believe we must be intentional about proclaiming the gospel as a powerful means for racial reconciliation – bringing people from all walks of life together around God. Every human bears the image of God and we cannot sit by while God’s image-bearers are diminished by our culture, or especially by the church. At minimum, Gospel Re-integration means building relationships with people who don’t look like me, sound like me, live like me, or act like me. But more deeply, it means intentionally taking whatever power and privilege I have been afforded and using it to serve the disadvantaged, delivering them to a place where they flourish and prosper. We must be intentional about being reconciled to the other with love that flows from a full understanding of the gospel and the redeeming mercy we have received. We must develop a genuine desire to serve each other and serve beside each other for the sake of our own restoration, but also for the sake of God’s name in the community.
All we are and do flows from the identity we have through the gospel. Our understanding of the flow of the gospel must begin with God; who he is, what he has done and what he created us to be. Next we must recognize the extent to which we, along with all humanity, are broken by our rejection of God and our apathy toward what he has done and his goals for us as humans. It’s with a firm understanding of these truths that we can then begin to truly value the work of Jesus and the ongoing need we have for restoration and reintegration through the power of God’s Spirit.
Jesus codified how we accomplish the purpose of the gospel by giving us his mission: “Go and make disciples, immersing them in all it means to be in relationship with God – the Father, Son and Spirit – and teaching them to obey everything I commanded you to be and do” (Matthew 28:19-21). As neighborhoods and workplaces, restaurants and ball fields are more and more filled with individuals whose identity is wrapped up in God, gospel restoration will happen both within individuals and communities and God will be glorified.