What We Believe:
"In the essentials we need unity, in the non-essentials we need freedom; but in all things we need love."
- Rupertus Meldenius
The BIG IDEA:
We believe there is a God who loves you, and wants your existence on this earth and beyond to be the BEST it can be and this God will do WHATEVER it takes to give you the best life possible, except force it on you.
We believe that there is a God, one TRUE God to be exact. It would be foolish to try to describe God in a paragraph on a page, foolish and impossible. The best way to know God is to spend time with God. There are no quick and easy ways to fully, and accurately describe God. However, here are three things we do know:
God is mysterious - If you live to be 700 years old, you still will not be able to halfway begin to understand everything about God. We do not have God in a box. As followers of Jesus, we appreciate God's mysteriousness and are constantly getting to know God more fully.
God is real - period.
God is love - If you have to pick one adjective to begin describing God, it is "love." God loves all of creation, including you, and wants what is best for you.
We believe that Jesus Christ was born nearly 2000 years ago in the area known as Palestine. Because all people have a distorted notion of who God is (we all tend to make God a "bigger & better" version of us), God became a man in order to clear up the confusion so that we could really KNOW God. Although we do not fully understand it, we believe that Jesus is both 100% God and 100% human (I guess you can do that when you're God). By showing us the real God, Jesus makes it possible for us to have a real relationship with God. Because of Jesus, we can know what pleases God, what is important to God, and what God wants for our lives.
We believe that Jesus was killed by men who cherished their own little notions about God more than the truth about God (deep down, we're all like those men). However, Jesus proved himself to be God by coming back from the dead (I guess you can do that too if you're God). We believe that people who trust Jesus and accept His grace, His sacrifice, and follow Him will also have life after death.
We believe the Bible is inspired by God, and is His completely true story about who He is, what He has done, what He is doing, and what He is going to do. It is a record of humanity's relationship with God, and people inspired by God, wrote it. Because people wrote the Bible, it also reflects their backgrounds, styles, and uses of language. The Bible is God's untainted and perfect message concerning all things related to knowing God, pleasing God, and being connected to God.
We believe that all people are creations of God and that each person is of infinite value to God (when was the last time someone told you that you were infinitely valuable?). God adores every single person, regardless of gender, age, race, ethnicity, behavior, height, weight, political affiliation and so on. God even loves NASCAR fans. In fact, the diversity of the earth's population is not only pleasing to God; it is an expression of God's outlandish ability to create. All people matter to God.
Because each person is a creation of God, each of us has a longing to be with God and to please God. However, God has created us with the freedom to do whatever we want. And against our better judgment we all choose at some point to do that which displeases God (see "Sin"). We all live with the tension of wanting to be near God while simultaneously thinking that we know better than God does.
If you have watched the news, or spent a few minutes listening to a televangelist then you've heard a lot about "sin." Here is what we believe about it:
We believe that sin is all the stuff, bad decisions, and things that happen to us that keeps us from being connected to God and to each other. Sin is the stuff that messes this world up and causes so much confusion, pain, and frustration. Sin is the stupid stuff we do and have done to us that makes our life a mess.
Not only is sin the stuff we do, it is also the state of being separated by God because of what we have done. When we sin (and everybody has), we get disconnected from God because we take God's perfect plan for our lives and exchange it with what we believe is a better plan. In other words, we act like selfish fools and think that we are smarter than God is.
In His infinite mercy, God does not force His ways on us. Although this is very nice of hHm, it means that we have to choose to accept His love, His forgiveness, and His work of reestablishing the relationship that He gave us in grace through Christ.
We believe the church is the collection of Jesus-followers in the past, present and future. This means that the church is people, not a building,place, or institution. Ultimately the Church is God’s representation of the here, but not yet, Kingdom of God. As a Church we are called to be involved in the life and work of that Kingdom here and now.
The church exists both universally (all the believers everywhere and throughout history) and locally (all the believers in a given local congregation). We are made up of imperfect people who are responding day by day in all our relationships to God's stunning grace.
We become connected to God in only one way - by choosing to accept the offer of forgiveness and reconciliation God offers to us by Jesus' life, death, and resurrection. If we ask Him to, God treats us as if we were Jesus (fully perfect, fully without sin, fully welcomed into God's presence). There is nothing we can do to earn God's favor or forgiveness; both are given because of God's goodness (not ours) and because of what Jesus has done (not because of what we do).
God did not intend for us to live a lonely life. Because of this when we become connected to God, we believe He wants us to become connected with other and live our lives alongside each other.
When we accept this new and real life, and confess of our need for Jesus to enter in our lives and make us whole in a way that we can never do under our own power, we identify ourselves as God’s Children by submitting to baptism by immersion. Through this act of acceptance, confession, and submission, God gifts us with the Holy Spirit and begins the process of changing our hearts and minds from the inside out and making our character more and more like Jesus' character.
The End of the Story
We believe that in his own time and in his own way, God will bring the world as we know it to an end. According to His promise, Jesus will return to earth in a real and visible way. When he returns, Jesus will judge every person who has ever lived and He will begin a new and eternal era of God's reign. The people who followed Jesus and accepted Him as the path to God will live with God forever. Those who rejected Jesus will be allowed to live out their choice to be separate from God and all that He gives (hope, love, meaning, peace, etc.) for all eternity.