At First Church there are three Bible passages that sum up the critical elements of what we believe as disciples of Jesus:
“God so loved the world that God gave God’s only Son, so that everyone who believes in him won’t perish but will have eternal life. God didn’t send God’s Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:16-17) These verses explain a lot about God’s relationship with people. The passage starts with the idea that God loves us all. Because of that love God sent Jesus to us. Jesus saved us by helping us understand God better through his teaching. Jesus saved us from our sins by living a life without sin and giving his life for ours so that God could have justice for sin. Jesus proved God’s power over death by his resurrection from the dead.
Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the law? [Jesus] replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself. All the law and the prophets hang on these two commands. (Matthew 22:36-40) In this passage, Jesus tells us how to live our lives the way God wants. By living our lives so that all that we are and all that we do shows God and the world that we love God, we can be close to God in our lives. Also, by showing people love we can help others understand the truth of God and create communities of peace with justice.
Jesus came near and spoke to them, “I’ve received all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you.” (Matthew 28:18-20) As followers of Jesus, we are to go into the world and share his message and his love. This isn’t about imposing Jesus on other people. It’s about helping people understand that there is another way besides some of the things the world offers. It’s our job to tell the story and do the work. We believe that once people give God a chance in their lives, most of them will want what Jesus is offering. An important part of the statement is that Jesus’ invitation is open to everyone. No matter who you are, where you’ve been, or what you’ve done, you can find love, hope, peace, and community in Jesus Christ.