Connecting with Jesus

The Good News about Jesus

In order to understand the good news about Jesus, there is a sense in which you need to understand the bad news about us.

The bad news is that we are separated from God. This is evidenced by the fact that we are all (even non-religious people) trying to save ourselves by looking to an assortment of things for salvation instead of looking to God. We do this both corporately (as classes, races, and families) and individually. We look for salvation psychologically (such as placing our hope in our talent or intelligence), socially (such as placing our hope in a group of friends or a spouse), politically (such as placing our hope in a particular party’s agenda), and in many other ways. But the real evidence of our separation from God is that no matter how hard we try, we are still unsuccessful in saving ourselves.
However, in light of that, the good news is that through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God has done everything necessary for us to be wholly saved by him and his free grace. We receive complete pardon (and much more) when we trust in Christ as our savior, and here's why that's possible. Out of all the humans who have lived throughout history, Jesus Christ alone lived the perfect life we should have lived. He alone earned the divine blessing that such a life would merit—and then he died the death we should have died, taking the curse and punishment we deserve. He did all of these things in our place. Because he was treated as we deserve, we can be treated by God as Jesus deserves. This is a salvation by sheer grace and gift, and it is absolutely, unbelievably good.

How We Connect

We are a community connecting with and following Jesus. And one of the ways we do this is by becoming like Him. But how does it happen? Here is our working theory of transformation: we believe connection happens through truth, practices, community, and the Holy Spirit.
In order to connect most deeply, we need to know what’s real and true. Truth comes at us in all kinds of ways. It can hit us when we hit rock bottom, or truth can hit us in the form of a new idea. But ultimate truth comes to us in Jesus. He said, “I am the way the truth and the life” (John 14:6), and that His teachings were the truth, and “the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). And while truth is necessary for connection and change, it is not sufficient for it either. Because we can’t simply will ourselves to believe something and live differently in light of it. We must move truth from our minds into what we do with our bodies. And that’s why we need practices.

Practices are the way we get the truth of who we are into our bodies and minds. Traditional Christian practices involve things like prayer, fasting, meditation, rest, and giving, to name a few. We have found that in a city like Bellflower, daily, devoted, undistracted prayer and meditation, as well as weekly rest, are a great starting point to practice the truth of Jesus. But our formation through practices into Christlikeness cannot happen simply by ourselves. We need to be part of a community of people who are moving in the same direction.

In Genesis 1:18, just after God had made the world and a human being and called everything good, He suddenly declares, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” Human beings are hardwired for community. And that’s because we are made in God’s own image, who Himself is a community of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). At the center of all reality is relational love. So in order to grow to become more like Jesus, we need deep relational connection. Jesus saves us into a community of people, the Church, so we should expect that our process of becoming more like Him will happen in the midst of community.

Lastly, and probably most importantly, we need the Holy Spirit to connect and change us. For it is God’s Spirit that leads us into all truth (John 16:13). The Spirit makes us one with God as we engage in spiritual practices, and the Spirit is the one who distributes gifts for the building up of the Jesus community (1 Corinthians 12:11; 14:12). The Spirit’s work in us is at the core of how we change and become more like Jesus.