Our vision is “To be known as Jesus’ disciples through actions that are motivated by love for God, for each other, and for those who suffer spiritually and physically.” To do this we must know, first, spend time becoming re-acquainted with Jesus; getting to know him. Hence, at the end of August in 2014 we started working our way through the gospel of Luke.
Second, once we have spent time getting to know Christ, to be known as His disciples, we must devote ourselves to being obedient to His call and strive to be like Him. Luke has carefully walked us through the life of Christ and showed us His love for people–many times people on the margins of social acceptance–and His mission to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). And so, we strive “To be known as Jesus’ disciples through actions that,” like Jesus’, “are motivated by love for God, for each other, and for those who suffer….” Luke tells us about the time Jesus announced His mission and purpose to the people of His hometown:
16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Finally, like the early church, we, too, strive to move outside ourselves to the world around us in a more intentional way so that we can join Jesus in His mission to “seek and save the lost” by focusing upon his mission to proclaim the good news to those to whom He sends us. This quest, then, naturally moves to the conclusion of Luke’s Gospel account and the first sentences of Luke’s second volume: the Acts of the Apostles.
In Luke 24:47 Jesus told His disciples: “The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”
As witnesses to these events, Jesus would empower them, through the Holy Spirit, to follow through with God’s plan (Luke 24:48-49). Then, in Acts 1:8 Jesus’ final words to the disciples are that “…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” This links Luke’s volume 1 to volume 2 as the disciples now work out the details of living Jesus’ mission, His purpose and His vision to take the gospel to the world through His people as they come together in His church. We take this charge personally as we practice taking up our crosses daily to follow Him. As Jesus Himself said,
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it” (Luke 9:23-24).
To this end, our study of Acts will be much different that our study of Luke’s gospel account. While we will work through the book of Acts from beginning to end, we will also pause long enough at particular points, to go deeper into a specific issue, a topic or a letter of Paul along the way. Simultaneously, we begin the quest to find ways to continue what was started in Jerusalem in our lives, our homes, our families, our places of work, and to other places and peoples to whom He sends us.
Come join us in the adventure!