Jesus is alive in our city, renewing everything for the glory of God
(Gospel, City, Renewal, Glory)
The gospel gets our hearts beating faster. Baaa-dum, Baa-dum, Ba-dum. The gospel is at the center of everything we do. Because the gospel really does change everything. You might be wondering, what is the gospel? The gospel is good news. The good news about who Jesus is, what he came to do, what he still does and what he will do.
Who is Jesus?
There are a lot of theories about who Jesus was: a good man, a teacher, a self-deluded prophet, an exaggeration of his disciples’ imagination or even non-existent (which is just silly). A distinctly different answer is given by the writers of Scripture. One of the simplest answers is that Jesus is Immanuel, which means “God with us.”
What did Jesus come to do?
It’s best to take Jesus at his own words. He said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” (see Luke 9:22). Jesus came to suffer, to be rejected, to be crucified, and to be resurrected. Why on earth would God come to do that? Jesus is clear: “the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” and “the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (see Mark 10:45, Luke 19:10).
Jesus will ultimately reconcile the world to himself. He will make all things new and restore all things, and on that day every knee will bow and recognize him as King.
The point Jesus makes is that he suffered, was rejected and died in our place for our sins so that through his resurrection we might be saved, forgiven and found by God.
What does Jesus still do?
When Jesus saves us, it is for life-after-death and for life-here-and-now. After his death and resurrection, Jesus ascended to heaven (stay with us here!). Jesus is enthroned at the right hand of God as King over the universe. Jesus is still reconciling the world to himself (see 2 Corinthians 5:19). He reconciles us to God by forgiving our sins which separated us from God. Jesus frees us from the power sin had over our lives and liberates us from the power of evil. Jesus shares his eternal life with us. He empowers us to live as witnesses to the kingdom of God in our midst, by dwelling with us through the Holy Spirit. He invites us into his kingdom through repentance and faith.
What will Jesus do?
Jesus will ultimately reconcile the world to himself. He will make all things new and restore all things, and on that day every knee will bow and recognize him as King (see Revelation 21:5, Acts 3:21, Philippians 2:5-11). When Jesus returns, he will come to judge the living and the dead. He will accept those who accept him and deny those who deny him (see Matthew 10:33). When Jesus returns, he will establish God’s kingdom and finally eradicate sin, evil and death. He will wipe away every tear, and there will be no more mourning or suffering. We will have no need for the sun or moon, because God will be our light and Jesus will be our lamp. There will only be the celebration of God’s beautiful, radiant and illuminating love (see Revelation 21).
All of this is merely a sketch of the gospel, but as you can see it really does change everything. The gospel is not advice, it’s good news. It’s the good news about God-with-us-in-Jesus, reconciling us and the world to himself.
What’s so great about seeing Jesus? It means that everyone and everything matters to God. We see Jesus in our city. Abraham Kuyper once said, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ does not cry, ‘Mine!'”
“There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ does not cry, ‘Mine!'” – Abraham Kuyper
We want to see our small part of the world, the city of Vancouver, reclaimed and renewed by Jesus. God calls us to seek the welfare of the places we live (see Jeremiah 29:5-7). God calls us to seek the common good of all (see Galatians 6:10). You might be wondering: Why do we want to see Jesus renew our city? After all, Vancouver is already a beautiful city, filled with wonderful people from innumerable cultures from all around the world. Even in all its goodness and amidst what can be celebrated about Vancouver, cracks still cut through our city, beauty is still misdirected and hearts still need mending. We crafted a short documentary called This Is Vancouver, which captures the beauty and the ashes of our city.
Of course, this documentary doesn’t represent Vancouver in its entirety. It’s but a sliver of the beauty and the heartache of the city. But it’s the hurt and confusion, and the spiritual devastation which marks Vancouver that fuels our hearts and imaginations with what could be.
The entire universe, all that exists, all of it, God is in the process of reconciling to himself through Jesus. God is taking all the chaos, the disruption, the pain and hurt, the injustice and suffering, and is ordering it, calming it and mending it. When Jesus returns, he will make all things new. The entire world will finally be at peace, unified and centered in God’s love.
While we wait for Jesus to return we do not simply abandon the world. God calls us to live as citizens of his kingdom, which means we cannot shirk off our responsibility to care for our neighbours, our enemies, other nations, and all of creation. When we allow Jesus to shape all areas of life of our life, it means he will also use us to shape the places that intersect with our lives. To learn more about our vision for renewal, we recommend our sermon series All Things New.
In all things, our aim is to point to the glory of God and not to ourselves. In everything we do, we want to make sure it is lock step with the good news of who Jesus is, what he came to do, what he still does and what he will do. Our sole focus is the gospel, because through the face of Jesus we see the glory of God. (see 2 Corinthians 4:1-6)
What God has in mind is infinitely more beautiful and incomprehensibly more satisfying than anything we could ever imagine for ourselves. The glory of God is his infinite beauty and his infinite greatness on display; to be celebrated and marveled in. While words fail us in attempting to describe God’s glory, His glory will never fail us. When we arrive on eternity’s shore the glory of God will be our greatest satisfaction and joy. Our songs for endless days will be to the praise of his glory. Our hearts will never exhaust the depths and riches of his love. Our eyes will never bore of his beauty. When God’s glory fills the earth, everything will finally be right. On that day, “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (see Habakkuk 2:14). Between now and that day, these words are an anchor in our heart, “this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).