I’ve been thinking about the change in seasons here in Central Oregon and how we will soon enter the dry months of summer.
Our world also needs the water of life – the water that Jesus offers.The good news of Jesus has to be good news for now, not just for eternity, or it’s not good news.
The world needs Jesus and it needs Jesus to be in us working through us. Too often, the message of Jesus is lost in the religious traditions of Christianity; we are known more for what we are against, or our politics, than we are known for how we love. That’s why we must reframe the gospel narrative.
The vision for the Church, including Westside, has always been transformational, expansive, Jesus-centric, and for everyone, everywhere. It’s time for us to reclaim, retell, and relive the good news of Jesus for a new generation. As Jesus said, out of you will flow rivers of Living Water.
We desire to embody the way of Jesus: to love God and love people. Like a river overflowing its banks, we see the gospel of Jesus moving into our neighborhoods, transforming lives and communities. As we intentionally engage in proximity to our city, we will see the life and love of Jesus bring transformation to everyone, everywhere across Central Oregon.
Michelle Warren writes in The Power of Proximity, “Broken people are able to help broken people. If we are unwilling to see ourselves as among the broken, we miss the chance to travel together toward restoration.”
As one theologian said, “The goal of justice…includes the restoration of the community as a place where all live together in wholeness.”
And this vision of transformation must include saturation – moving into proximity with our world, our city, our schools, and our neighborhoods.
If you have lived in a region that is prone to flooding, a vision of rivers rising and saturating our region may be terrifying. Waters in flood-stage can be quite damaging to a region, especially if it’s been dry for a long time.
That’s why God is asking us to create channels for the water to flow – irrigation systems where the water of life can move into a region or a school or government or a neighborhood and distribute where it’s needed.
I envision a world where the Gospel is both seen and heard; where the church has a reputation for abundantly and generously loving people everywhere, always. I see our church having a seat at the civic table, working side by side with leaders in our communities to address the greatest needs and invited to this table because the evidence of our love for others has given us a seat.
My prayer is that your life and my life might be rivers of living water flowing in relationships we already have, in new relationships yet to be built, and into the cities where He’s placed us.