Identity, community, and purpose are common to why people stay passionate and participate in organizations. I believe that a Christian congregation should be equipped to answer these three motivations. I want you to think with me about how successful your congregation does supporting in people and in families identity, community, and purpose.
Hebrews chapter 10 does a good job helping me understand how the church can answer our personal desires for identity, community, and purpose.
Our identity is shaped by our Baptism. The writer of Hebrews wrote, “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:22).
We are baptized children of God who are loved and redeemed by Jesus Christ. The accusations of our wrongs and the judgments of our sins are no longer held against us, because our shame has been washed away in the water of Baptism. We do not get our consciences clean through our own redeeming acts. Jesus is our identity. As much as I rely on Jesus for my identity as a child of God, I desire daily for God to give me the vision to see others as ones for whom Christ died and rose again. Who are you? You are not defined by your sins or shame. You are a child of God loved by Jesus Christ.
Our community is shaped by holding in common that we are all sinners deserving of judgment who have been brought together by the awesome good news that Jesus Christ saves us through His life, death, and resurrection. Jesus has brought us into the family of God. The writer of Hebrews continues by writing, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another” (Hebrews 10:23-25a)
The good news of Jesus Christ brings together people. The love of Jesus Christ unites us into community and keeps us caring for each other. We hold each other accountable by encouraging one another to love and do good works. When we live together connected to Jesus, we do not neglect the needs of one another. We are the family of God.
Our purpose is shaped by the Day of the Lord that is drawing near when judgment will come and the dead will be raised. Those who believe in Jesus Christ will be raised to eternal life and those who do not believe in Jesus Christ as the Lord will be damned to hell for eternity. I trust that God desires all people to be saved. Amazingly, God wants to use us to share this good news. We witness in our words and deeds to the world that we have confidence in the promise of God to deliver us to salvation through Jesus Christ. The section from Hebrews I have been quoting from finishes with the line, “and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:25b). The decision of what you are going to do with your life is a big question. Living on purpose is a lot less stressful when we trust that God loves and cares for us. We are free from the burden of having to prove ourselves, and we are completely free to serve others. I love that God promises to use us as His instruments to share His love in this world.