Mission and Vision Statements of Faith Lutheran Church, Grand Blanc, Michigan With Biblical and Confessional Support October 31 st, 2012

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1 Mission and Vision Statements of Faith Lutheran Church, Grand Blanc, Michigan With Biblical and Confessional Support October 31 st, 2012 MISSION STATEMENT: Faithfully living every relationship in God's way. VISION STATEMENT: See the last two pages below focusing on a Thumbs Up worldview. Both the mission and vision statements above are established on the fact that our entire life as Christians is lived in relationship to God and men. We receive God s blessing and purpose when we live out all these relationships in His way. We have God s blessing when we turn to Him first and foremost to receive His free forgiveness in Jesus Christ. According to John 3:16, we have this gift as Jesus states, For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (All references are from the ESV, English Standard Version.) Jesus, as the perfect husband, loved us to the point of death on the cross. As the Holy Spirit creates faith in us through Baptism and the Word of God, we are justified before God and set on the path of eternal life. We are truly blessed. We have God s purpose for all of life as we relate to Him as the Lord of our life. As Lord, Jesus has given us these two greatest commands in Mark 12:30-31, And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these. These two commandments point out that the purpose of life is to live out loving relationships with God and men. The mission statement of Faith summarizes that we have God s blessing and purpose when we faithfully live every relationship in His way. We relate to Jesus as our loving Savior and Lord. In obedience to His command, we relate to our fellow men with the love we have first received from Jesus.

2 The vision statement of Faith expands on the ideas in the mission statement and puts them into a visible form. It expresses how it looks when we are faithfully living every relationship in God s way. The vision statement uses the Thumbs Up illustration to do this. The first point of the thumbs up illustration is that our primary relationship is to be with Jesus Christ. This can be represented by making a fist with the hand and then extending the thumb upward. The thumb pointing upward, extending from the center of the fist, reminds us that our attention must be focused upward on Jesus Christ. All other relationships in life wrap around this one primary relationship. This focus on Christ gives a Christian his identity. He is claimed and shaped by the grace of God in Christ. Even when he makes the inevitable mistakes in his balance of relationships, he will always receive a new start through Holy Absolution for Christ s sake. This unmerited forgiveness from Christ is the essential starting place before he is able to enter into a loving relationship with others. A Christian receives from Christ the strength he needs to care for the people in his life. In all his relationships, the Christian must begin with his thumb up to remind him of his primary relationship with Christ that provides him with the free forgiveness and strength he needs. Once a Christian is clear on his relationship with Christ as his first priority, he can then apply what he learns from Christ in his other relationships. These other relationships can be illustrated by the fingers of the thumbs up illustration. The four fingers wrapping around the central axis are representative of all the human relationships in the Christian s life. The forefinger represents the Christian s relationship with his or her spouse. The fore-finger reminds the Christian that he or she is to be one flesh with spouse. In this relationship, the Christian is to practice and model what has been learned from the relationship between Christ and His bride, the church. The Lord guides us in His Word on the importance of a man s relationship with his wife. Briefly, we note that in Gen. 2:24, Mat. 19:6 and Eph. 5:31, God repeats this mandate for marriage, Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. This directive from the Creator of man and marriage indicates that

3 the husband is to cherish the relationship with his wife as his most precious earthly gift. Mueller and Kraus support this when they state, The Christian should consider his wife the most precious gift, next to his salvation in Christ Jesus, that God has given him for this life (Mueller, 1990, p. 35). Since marriage is the first institution that God established among men, it fits that a husband should make it a first priority to take care of the relationship with his wife. Martin Luther regularly lifted up the importance of the Christian living out a Christ-like relationship with his spouse as a model for others. If the Christian fails to love his wife as Christ loved the church (at least to the degree that is possible for a sinful human), then he will be giving a poor witness to the world. But, when a Christian man and wife model the sacrificial, unconditional, and incarnational love of Christ on a daily basis, they will build a strong foundation for the other relationships in their life. This brings us to the next finger in the thumbs up illustration. After the marriage relationship represented by the fore-finger, next is the middle finger as a representation of the Christian s relationship with his or her children and other extended family members. This includes parents, siblings, in-laws, step-family members, and any others in his extended family. These relationships prosper when Christ remains on top and the relationship with spouse is in good order. The love of Christ will flow down to this next level of relationship when the Christian is secure in his relationships with Christ and his wife. The first commandment of the second table of the Ten Commandments is directed to the relationship between children and parents as the Lord commanded, Honor your father and your mother. The marriage mandate also speaks of the great importance of the relationship between a man and his parents as it directs the man to leave father and mother in order to be united to his wife. These passages indicate that next to the relationship between husband and wife, the next highest priorities in a man s human relationships are those with his children and parents. As a general guideline, the middle finger can also serve as a reminder about the importance of all our extended family relationships.

4 After caring for his relationship with his wife, a Christian is wise to care for all his relationships with his children, parents and other extended family members. Next, we consider the ring finger of the thumbs up illustration. This finger represents the relationship between the Christian and his or her congregation. These relationships hold precedence over those with the general population as the Christian is told to care for fellow believers and then for others as well. Consider 1 Thessalonians 5 in which St. Paul says, 11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. If a Christian has poor relationships with Christ, wife and/or extended family, then his or her relationship with the church family will also be hindered or impossible. When a Christian is practicing Christ-like relationships in these higher levels of priority, then he or she will have a ready illustration to draw upon when relating to fellow Christians throughout the world and particularly in the local congregation. Finally, we come to the pinky in our thumbs up illustration. This finger represents the Christian s relationships with those who have not yet been baptized into the name of Jesus. A Christian must have concern for these relationships as the Lord commanded us in Mat. 28:19 to make disciples of all nations. This necessary level of relationship in the Christian s life will and must flow out of all the other relationships mentioned above. As a Christian remains strong in his relationships with Christ, spouse, family and church family, he will be a model of Christian love for the world to see. He will have many opportunities to then speak of the reason for the way he lives. Such verbalizing of the motive for the way he lives will allow him to speak clearly the Law and Gospel of Christ. Most of all, he will be able to proclaim the greatest love of all, the free grace of God in Christ. The thumbs up illustration can be very useful in keeping relationship priorities clear. It s consistent with the teachings of God s Word. It s clear throughout Scripture that we are to

5 place our relationship with our Lord, Jesus Christ, as our number one priority. As we hear in the first commandment, from Exodus 20:3, the Lord declares, You shall have no other gods before me. Not even wife, children or fellow Christians are to be above our relationship with the Lord. Next, concerning the four fingers, the fitting word is balance. Following the guidance of Luther and Mueller/Kraus, a Christian is to value all human relationships with spouse, children, family, fellow Christians and those yet to be reached with the Gospel message. And, it is helpful to keep each relationship in mind using the four fingers of the thumbs up illustration. However, the priority in time and importance of these four fingers will shift according to the most pressing need at any given time. Such balance is only achievable when the Christian continually returns to the forgiveness, model and strength of Christ. This will continually remind the Christian to care for his spouse as Christ cares for His bride, the church. It will also remind the Christian to care for his family and fellow Christians. Of course, the Christian is also to have a constant eye toward reaching out in love to those yet to be added to the number of the church. The balance among his human relationships is never a simple task, yet the thumbs up illustration may be useful in keeping the priorities in order. This illustration can serve as a check list for the Christian as he considers, in order, the well-being of spouse, children and extended family, fellow Christians and those yet to believe. WORKS CITED: McCain, P., Engelbrecht, E., Baker, R. & Veith, G., (Eds.). (2006). Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions. Pocket ed. St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House. Mueller, N. H. & Kraus, G., (Eds.). (1990). Pastoral Theology. St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House. The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (2001). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

6 living together each day with a Thumbs Up worldview. Jesus Spouse Children & Extended Family Church Family World

7 A Thumbs Up Worldview JESUS Christ is the highest priority for each of us personally and as a congregation. He loves us sacrificially, unconditionally and incarnationally and has freed us from sin and hell. He daily fills us with joy and true peace through His Word and Sacraments. We praise Him as our Savior and honor Him as our Lord. We eagerly serve Jesus with our entire life personally, as a family at home and as a congregational Faith family. We give Jesus our very best in the use of our time, talents and material treasures. SPOUSE is the next priority in our Faith family. Married couples in our midst cherish their marriage as a reflection of the perfect union between Christ and the church. They know Christ WILL bless and preserve their marriage as they live it out in His way. And, whether married or single, we are ALL married to Christ Jesus. Even single members join the rest of the Faith family in receiving and reflecting the sacrificial, unconditional and incarnational love of our perfect Husband, Jesus Christ. CHILDREN & EXTENDED FAMILY are the next priority in our Faith family. Parents have a high calling to raise their children in Christian faith. They also have a responsibility to care for the members of their extended family; parents, siblings, in-laws, step-family, etc. As husband and wife love each other in God s way, they re teaching their children and other family members about the sacrificial, unconditional and incarnational love of Christ. The rest of the Faith family also prays for, trains and supports each parent in our midst (married or single) in raising children to be lifelong disciples of Jesus Christ. The Faith family also prays for and assists every member in caring for their extended family members with the same love shown to us by our Bridegroom, Jesus. CHURCH FAMILY is the next priority for every member of our Faith family. We care deeply for all our fellow disciples of Jesus Christ, first here at Faith, but also for other Christians in our community and throughout the world. We pray regularly for one another. We care for bodily needs as well as emotional and spiritual needs. In word and deed, we use our time, talents and material treasures to support one another. We re committed to joining together in weekly worship and growth in our understanding of God s Word. WORLD-wide relationships with those who are not yet disciples of Jesus Christ are the final but not at all unimportant priority in our Faith family. We have deep concern for everyone we encounter every day who is not yet free from sin and the threat of hell. We do all we can to make Christ known to them as their own Savior and Lord. We pray for them earnestly. We join our Faith family in all our local efforts to make Christ known. We take part in and support efforts around the world to lead others to receive salvation in Christ and to live out the joyous life of Christian discipleship He freely gives. FAITH is a place for all of us to live together each day with a Thumbs Up worldview.

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