"You shall love your neighbor as yourself." ... "And who is my neighbor?"

What if we started with our literal neighbors and the city God has placed us in?

Ambassadors of the Kingdom

To follow Christ is to joyfully transfer our primary allegiance from the kingdoms of this world to the kingdom of heaven and the kingship of Jesus. His kingdom has broken through our fallen world, although it will not be fully realized until he returns again. Until that time, through the work of the Holy Spirit, we are being transformed to become the kind of people who embody Jesus‘ kingdom. That is to say, we are being restored to become the people we were meant to be all along, free from sin.

Empowered by the Holy Spirit, we are sent by Jesus to be ambassadors of his kingdom to the kingdoms of this world (John 20:21; Acts 1:8; 2 Cor 5:18-20). Like any foreign ambassador, our role is to represent our king and kingdom well in a place that is distinct from, even in opposition to, the kingdom we are sent from. Because Jesus’ kingdom is a restoration of all things, we seek to embody and proclaim its impact on all of life (Matt 5:11-16). At home, at work, and at play, we seek to live lives that open people‘s imaginations to the beauty of the good news.

We are not saviors or conquerors. We are not building our own kingdoms. We are representatives of Jesus, who alone is savior and king. We simply want to participate in what he is already doing and be faithful to the unique role he has for us as sojourners in the land we’re sent to (1 Peter 2:11).

* quote from Lesslie Newbigin in ‘The Gospel in a Pluralist Society’

“The church in each place is to be the sign, instrument and foretaste of the reign of God present in Christ for that place; a sign, planted in the midst of the present realities of the place but pointing beyond them to the future which God has promised; an instrument available for God’s use in the doing of his will for that place.”*

Ambassadors to South Scottsadle

A thought exercise: think of a country in the world that is distinctly different than your own, one that feels uncomfortably foreign to you. Now consider what it would be like to be sent as an ambassador to that place. You don’t know the language. You don’t know the culture. You don’t know the patterns or the values. But you have been sent there to build bridges and give an accurate picture of your home country, one that opens people’s imaginations to its beauty. How would you live your life intentionally to fulfill that role?

We believe that God has “determined allotted periods and the boundaries of [our] dwelling place (Acts 17:26)” for his purposes. This means that in his sovereign plan, he has sent us as ambassadors to a particular place in a particular time: Scottsdale, Arizona in the twenty first century. As followers of Jesus, we are called to embody and proclaim the good news of the kingdom by loving these neighbors (Mark 12:31) and seeking the good of this city (Jer 29:7).

This will require us to adopt a posture of learning. We need new eyes to see a familiar place we think we already know. We will place constraints on ourselves to help focus our attention and efforts. We will be honest about the idols of our culture and engage the messy realities that go beyond assumptions and reputation. We will make long term investments that impact generations.

Focusing our efforts will also help us uncover the good around us that we can celebrate and participate in. We will find people and organizations that we can support and partner with (again, we aren’t the saviors). As we learn, we respond with love in action (1 John 3:18).

Mapping the City

As a relatively new congregation, we have adopted a posture of learning and listening. We want to develop new eyes to see our neighbors (especially the marginalized), the realities of the burdens they carry, the idols they worship, and how we can love them well. We're building relationships with those doing good work and seeking our role in the good of the city.

Everyday Life

Not everyone has time and energy to give to the structured efforts of mapping the city and forming new partnerships. But there are plenty of ways to be intentional in the flow of everyday life.