Real Christianity is not a religious, cultural, political, or even behavioral veneer pasted onto the surface of life. Real Christianity is lived from the inside out. By the power of God’s grace, he changes us deep down at the core of who we are and what we value.
As such, we do not have “core values” because they are trendy standard operating procedure for companies seeking to shape their corporate identity. We have core values because God, by his grace, has changed us at the core and given us a completely new value system. Here are the things that are most precious to us at Bethel.
We treasure the gospel of Jesus Christ at Bethel! It’s not just one among many values. It’s the most precious thing in the world to us! The Gospel is the good news (gospel simply means “good news”) that Jesus died to save sinners like us and reconcile us to God.
We all have sinned and rebelled against the King of the universe. We want to be little gods. We want our will to be done on earth as it is in our own minds. And that rebellion deserves to be crushed. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).
We all naturally buy the lie that God is a cosmic killjoy and not to be trusted. Consciously or subconsciously we tell him to shove off, and we turn to worship and serve created things (Romans 1:25). We look to finite things to give us infinite satisfaction, and they always leave us empty and exhausted.
God is just. He can’t sweep our cosmic rebellion under the rug of the universe. We deserve to pay the debt of our sin. We deserve hell. That is really bad news.
But God is also incredibly merciful and loving! He sent Jesus to die in our place and pay the debt we deserve to pay. Jesus literally went through hell for us, so we could have heaven with him. So we can know him as the greatest treasure of our lives. That is really good news!
This gospel is not only the entryway to Christianity. It’s also the power for all of the Christian life. It’s the power of God that continues to free us and change us and make us the Christlike loving people God wants us to be. It animates and energizes us in two directions. It sends us IN toward greater intimacy and loving relationship God and each other (communion with God & community with his people). And it sends us OUT toward those in need (ministry to those in need & mission to tell the world that only Jesus can meet their deepest needs). And so, our second and third values are Community and Mission.
It was not good that man should be alone (Gen 2:18). We were made in the image of the relational, triune God in order to enjoy loving relationship with him and with each other. Sin broke that vertical fellowship and has wreaked all kinds of havoc on our human relationships.
Our relational God did what it took to restore those relationships. He reconciled us to himself through his Son. Jesus died on the cross to purchase peace and reconciliation with our Heavenly Father (Rom 5:1; 2 Cor 5:18-19). He also reconciles us to each other as his grace and peace pours from him, through us, to others.
We greatly value relationships and community at Bethel. The local church is like a family. In fact, it is the greatest family. It is the family of God! Bethel is a family of families, and it is a family for the family-less. We want our singleness and our marriages and our families and our friendships and our unified diversity to reflect the glory and love of God!
Our triune God is a missionary God. He is a God who moves toward us—even when we are running away. He came down to Adam and Eve when they had fallen. He ultimately “came down” to us when he sent his Son to take on flesh and blood—to live and die in our place. Jesus, like a good shepherd, came to seek and to save the lost.
God did not shrink back from our need. He moved toward us to meet our need. He did not turn away when we hid in the darkness (John 8:12). He shined his light in the darkness and called us out into his marvelous light (1 Pet 2:9). And he did it so that we would become the light of the world (Matt 5:16).
In love, our missional God sent our missional Savior, that we might become a missional people.
Click HERE to listen to sermons on our values.