[featured_image] To embody the mission and message of Jesus requires that one’s heart be submitted fully to Jesus. Those things that matter most to Jesus must matter to us. Therefore, the CROSS, COMMUNITY, and CULTURE must be valued in the heart of every believer. It is critical that followers of Jesus Embrace the Cross, Experience Community, and Engage the Culture daily. These three loves demonstrate the missional alignment of a believer’s heart:
- Loving Jesus
- Loving One Another
- Loving the Lost
When Christians love Jesus (embracing the cross), love one another (experiencing community), and love the lost (engaging the culture), the mission is advanced. My friends Paul Kaak and Neil Cole have described these same Missional Distinctives as the DNA of the Church. “In the expansion of the Kingdom of God, DNA maintains the strength, vitality, and reproductivity of every cell in Christ’s body. Just as the DNA is exactly the same in almost every cell of a body, the DNA is the same throughout the Body of Christ.” (Neil Cole, Organic Church, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2005, 114–115)
Divine Truth—Truth comes from God. It is the revelation of God to humankind. It is best seen in the person of Jesus and the Scriptures. Divine Truth is seen in the Incarnation (the Word becoming flesh) and in the Word of God.Nurturing Relationships—Humans were never created to be alone. We are social creatures and have an intrinsic need for relationships. God Himself is relational and exists in community. God is love because God is relational.Apostolic Mission—Apostolic means “sent as a representative with a message.” Christians are here for a purpose. We have been given a prime directive to fulfill: to make disciples of all the nations. “As the Father has sent Me, so send I you” (John 20:21)
When you look at the life of Jesus, you see that Jesus embodies divine truth, nurturing relationships, and apostolic mission. The DNA is also central to Jesus’ main teaching and instructions to His disciples as seen in the following chart:
Loving One Another
Second Greatest Commandment
Loving the Lost
The DNA pattern has three applications:
- Faith is our response to Truth (Embracing the Cross)
- Love is our response to Relationships (Experiencing Community)
- Hope is our response to Mission (Engaging the Culture).
These Missional Distinctives (DNA) are what compel spiritual growth within every follower of Jesus. Four times in his letters, Paul uses faith, hope, and love in the same sentence (1 Cor 13:13; Col 1:5; 1 Thes 1:3; 5:8). He summarizes the spiritual growth of the Thessalonians by saying, “We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thes 1:3). Faith. Hope. Love. Each of these is evidenced in the missional heart of a believer.
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