For the next few weeks, we are looking at our core values here at Two Rivers Church. Our vision is to live in the ways of Jesus. Our values are the way we live out that commitment. We believe that we are Beautiful, Creative, Vulnerable, Inclusive and Authentic. Our values show us how we build our life together. What is important to us? How do we make decisions? Our core values determine the answers to all of those questions.
Two weeks ago, we started with the value of Beauty. We believe that we – all of creation, all of nature, all of us as a community, all of us as individuals – are beautiful because God’s image resides in us.
So why, why do we as a church offer that we live in the way of Jesus by claiming the value of beauty?
Because we believe that beauty can change the world.
Our world today can be an ugly place. Just this week alone, we’ve experienced heartbreaking acts of destruction, violence and terror.
- We are still reeling from the slaughter in a schoolhouse in Parkland, Florida
- New bombing has broken out in Syria, primarily affecting innocent civilians
- Our partisan politics are at the most destructive level in generations
In our own lives, we experience plenty of ugliness:
- We confront racism and white privilege everywhere we go, from school to work to our own families
- Homophobia is still a socially acceptable form of discrimination, often given a religious veneer to make it more palatable
- We find our relationships painful, filled with broken trust, resentment, and fear
- Our bodies sometimes feel ugly to us – we experience illness and disease, some that will pass quickly like a cold or the flu but others that are chronic and permanent
- We even bring on ugliness ourselves when we turn our backs on life with God – we call that sin. That back-turning, or sin, shows up as selfishness, self-centeredness, jealousy, and fear when we turn away from genuine love, justice, and mercy.
- I’ve talked with some of you who have experience ugliness even in church! Competition, prejudice, anger and judgment are rampant in the church, the place where we should embrace the ways of Jesus
But friends, we have the best gift to bring to a hurting and ugly world – the beauty of Jesus Christ. Pastor Brian Zahnd has written a book with that title – Beauty Will Save the World. He suggests that the only hope the church has in a Post-Christian setting is to embrace the beauty of Jesus and to be so formed by his life and love that we as individuals and as churches radiate beauty in the way we talk, the way we interact with others in the world, and the way we treat creation.
At Two Rivers, this is the beauty we embrace and the beauty we believe will save the world. The beauty of Jesus Christ, living in and through us, that will change the world around us in incredible ways. Join us as we make this beautiful journey together!