Identity informs our Activity – Disciples : Learn

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IDENTITY: DISCIPLE

Broken glass of humanity.

God has created all of us (humanity, i.e. everyone) in his image.  The Imago Dei. That is our intended identity, who we are. We are image bearers of God. We are made in his likeness. We have been made by God into a sort of spiritual mirror, surrounded by flesh.

But that isn’t what we like to believe.  We don’t like to think that anyone else has the right to tell us who we are. We make our own way. We create our own identity.  We don’t think anyone other than us, including God himself, can be trusted to tell us who we ought to be.  No one other than ourselves can be trusted with what makes us happy.

And all of creation has been working overtime take this control from God. This is the story revealed in Genesis 3, when our first parents, Adam and Eve, chose their own way over how God had instructed them.  It’s the story Jesus tells in Luke 15 when a son decides he can’t trust his father with his happiness any longer and spends his father’s gifts on himself. 

Because of this bent, we are unable to be the spiritual mirror that God has created us to be. Instead, we have created our own identity. We have taken the hammer of our sin to that mirror.  We have broken the image-reflecting ability of our souls and made ourselves rebels against God. And once a mirror is broken, you can’t just superglue that bad boy back together again…you need a whole new mirror. 

So Jesus stepped on the scene as the perfect image of God, the exact imprint of God the Father’s character (Heb 1). Replacing broken glass is often  bloody work.  There is risk involved, when it must be cleaned up. Jesus doesn’t sit back and command someone else to clean up the mess we made, and he doesn’t put on gloves to do the work. He steps right into the brokenness.  He walks in and grabs it with both hands.

Jesus is the only one who can offer us the opportunity to step back into our intended identity as perfect image reflectors of our Creator. When we become disciples of Jesus, we submit our lives to follow what God says is best for us instead of following the example of Adam and choosing our own way.

Who are you reflecting today? Whose way are you following? Who/what is creating your identity?

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ACTIVITY: LEARN

This month at Apostles Church we are stepping away from our normal weekly Sunday get together. In lieu of finding a gathering location in our desired context, we are taking the month of September to visit other churches (specifically church plants) and the spend every Monday morning in prayer and fasting.

This is a great opportunity for us to live out our identity as Disciples who follow Jesus the Son.  Disciple can literally be translated to learner.  Once of the key ways our identity as disciples plays itself out in our life is when we seek to learn more about who God is and how his story speaks into the story of the world around us.

Leaning from other churches.

As a launch team this month is allowing us to visit other communities of believers around our city and see what God is doing around us.  We are getting the chance to learn the practicalities of using the space that God provides as best as possible.  We are learning that the styles of our gathering can be flexible as long as the Gospel of Jesus Christ is rock solid. We are learning how a brand new church plant can be an encouragement to a two year old church.

We are also learning how we are different and how God is building a family at Apostles Church with specific gifting and specific calling in our city. I am humbled by the disciples that God is bringing to be a part of this work and the incredible gifts that he has equipped them with!

Learning from God the Holy Spirit.

Every Monday in September we are taking time to pray specifically for a gathering location for Apostles Church and for the multiplication of Missional Communities in our church.  In our prayers we have the opportunity to listen to God. Jesus said in John 10:27, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” We are intentionally seeking God’s voice in this time so that we know how to follow better as disciples.

Learning from discipline.

As a church we are also taking every Monday morning to fast together.  This means we aren’t eating breakfast.  Missing “the most important meal of the day” isn’t easy! Especially when this meal can be a great source of bacon! But through this discipline, we are reminded that God will provide all we need as a new church. Phillipians 4:19 says, “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

How are you learning more of God’s story today? How are you learning more about the story of those around you? How are you learning to submit to God’s story rather than the story of the culture?

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sentlogoThe past 7 years of my life have been completely focused on what God was doing through a church he was building called August Gate in South St. Louis City.  It is surreal, but on Sunday, May 25th, August Gate will be holding a commissioning/sending service for me, my wife, my daughter, and all those committed to this new work called Apostles Church. We will be prayed for, loved on and fed well to help ease the pain that comes from turning the page on a chapter you have been reading for 7 years. While I am inexplicably amped for what God is currently doing in my family (biological) and my new spiritual family (Apostles STL), it is strange leaving what has become home and moving out!

I am more grateful to the elders and covenant members (past and present) at August Gate than I could ever put into words. Without your faithfulness to King Jesus and his Church, this new church would not be happening.  I am eternally grateful for you all and extremely pleased to come from such a great legacy! Lets celebrate May 25th as a day where God multiplies his work here in St. Louis!

– Todd