A Movement of Redeeming Love

Leading More To Jesus

This special 25th anniversary article, written by Arrow leader David Dwight, emphasizes the Church as a movement of redeeming love to lead more people to Jesus. This is a great article to share with others in your church community – to dialogue and identify ways that you are part of God’s family vision.

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Years ago I read a commentary that said: “When Jesus taught us to pray and began with ‘Our Father’ he changed religion forever. He taught us that God was personal and he taught us that His vision was a family vision.”

God’s redemptive family vision sweeps from Abraham to the manger, to the book of Revelation’s “heavenly multitude no one could count.” Even from the beginning, when God created Adam and Eve, He who had always lived as Trinity gave His infinite love to a family too large to count. Love is like that: it always wants to give itself away. And God intends to create a family so large that His infinite love will be shared forever. It’s a vision He pursues throughout Scripture and it’s a family vision for which He paid the highest price.

God asks the Church to be His active agent in the world, bringing this vision to life, leading more and more people to Jesus, filling out the picture He gave to Abraham – as numerous as the stars in the sky. He’s asking the Church to make this vision our own, to wholeheartedly own it and work for it. It’s a family vision where God’s love changes people’s lives and brings as many as possible into the family. We get glimpses of this early in Genesis when Adam and Eve are told to “be fruitful and increase in number – fill the earth” (Gen. 1:28). By the time we get to Jesus, this family is the “whosoever” family, vast and covering every nation, tribe and tongue – captured in “whosoever believes in Him” (John 3:16).

Not being a person who grew up in the Church, it was after I met Christ when I first heard the children’s rhyme “Here’s the Church, here’s the steeple, open the doors and see all the people.” It’s a fun rhyme that many people remember from Sunday School. And while I have great appreciation for those who have taught children over the years, I have wondered who started this rhyme. It seems quite contrary to the Church as the redemptive movement we see in the New Testament.

Church

If you actually do the hand-motions with the rhyme – you realize that it imparts a limiting vision of the Church. It suggests that Church is a building rather than people, and when you open the doors to see all the people – there are only 6 of them in there! It’s a “come in here” vision of the Church, rather than a “go out there” movement. The book of Acts indicates that being the Church is an outward movement of redeeming love.

The New Testament Church was a movement of people unleashed in the world by the Spirit of God, founded on faith in the Son of God, and compelled to keep telling about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. These people were part of a movement where lives were changed by forgiveness and reconciliation with God. They were people with contagious love fueled by hope in the One Who gives life abundantly – people with a dynamic vision of eternal life, now and forever. They had an “out there” rather than “in here” vision reaching as many people as possible.

We continue in this vision for the Church to be an outward movement of redeeming love, culminating with the picture expressed in Revelation 7:9: “…there before me, I saw a great multitude no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language.” God’s vast family: the international family of the redeemed.

The Bible is the story of God and His family vision. A family He rescued by offering Jesus. It’s a vision that compels me to ask how I will honor Him in my life and my leadership – to help as many people as possible enter the family.

Reflection Questions:

  1. When you consider “God’s vision is a family vision – of a multitude too numerous to count” – what thoughts come to mind?
  2. Contrast and compare the vision of the Church to be “come in here” and “go out there.” What qualities do you notice?
  3. Author Peter Kreeft has written: “God’s love is infinite, which means its supply grows with its use.” This is the opposite of how we think of resources, where the remaining supply is reduced by using it. Kreeft suggests, “the more we give God’s love, the more there is for us to experience and to give.” What do you think about this? How does this impact the expression of the Church as a movement of redeeming love?

David Dwight - Picture 1

David Dwight is Senior Pastor and co-founder of Hope Church in Richmand, VA. David became a Christian in college and went to seminary after starting his career in banking. David has taught in various seminaries and universities, completed the Arrow Leadership Program with Class 1 in 1994 and is the co-author of “Start Here – Beginning a Relationship with Jesus.” David is married to Elisabeth and they have two grown children, Laura and David Jr.

Rose Thompson

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