As you observe the lighting of the second candle of Advent today you will hear again and again the word LOVE related to God’s promise for a renewed life to those who will believe in the Son. Although there is not a clear tradition across the spectrum of Christian beliefs, whether some call this second candle the candle of hope, of love or of peace, ever since the 4th century when these traditions were formed, each Sunday builds on the next culminating with the celebration of Jesus’ birth.
Who We Are
The Authoritative Version
From the moment of birth, we humans try to find and understand our identity. Every element that comes into our lives, from order of birth, gender, physical characteristics to different skill levels, intelligence, career, social status -- they all play a part in who we perceive ourselves to be as well as who the world (society at large) considers us to be.
According to the Bible, the truth is that our identity is not earned, or achieved, but received. We received our identity when God, our Creator, decided to create humankind in His image and likeness. That is our identity, and it is how our value is established. We are no less valuable, nor any more valuable than any other human on this planet, but we reflect to the entire creation its very Creator.
In Christ we received the right to be God’s children as the Bible points out in John 1:12: “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”
As the Church, the body of Christ, we are people redeemed through His sacrifice, striving to live lives that bring glory and honor to God.
Who We Are
Growers in Grace
We grow by being rooted in God’s Word, the Bible, and in the Living Word, Jesus. We’ve abandoned the life of aimless pursuits and exchanged it for the single pursuit of spiritual maturity in Christ.
Through His grace we’ve received the most undeserved gift of forgiveness and spiritual purity. As people, we are by no means perfect, and are continuously aware that if it were not for His grace we would be truly hopeless. Through faith we depend on the promise that if we walk in His light then we have fellowship with God and we experience the purity that comes only from Him. (1 John 1:7)
We’ve come from all walks of life. In Jesus we’ve found hope, peace, love, forgiveness and a bond with each other that defies social logic and expectation. That’s who God is growing us to be.
Who We Are
Because of the Cross
In 1 Corinthians 15:14, the Apostle Paul affirms that if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is our faith. A few verses earlier, the same Apostle Paul instructs as of first importance that Christ died for our sins just as the Scriptures foretold; that He was buried; that He was raised just as the Scriptures foretold; and that He appeared to His Apostles as well as to more than five hundred of the people of His day. (1 Corinthians 15:3-6)
This is the cornerstone of our belief, without which our faith would be indeed in vain and hopeless. As it stands, however, the cross teaches us that God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him will not be lost but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
Jesus Christ, in Whom all the fullness of God lived in bodily form (Colossians 2:9), was humanity’s perfect sacrifice of atonement, once and for all removing the chasm of sin separating humankind from its Creator for so many millennia.
So who are we? We are people who are loved, and who in turn can’t help but love.
Who We Are
Planting seeds of love, encouragement and hope – we do this by expressing those things in our words and our actions. As seed planters, we realize that it is God who causes the growth and does the work of cultivating in the heart.
When you are excited about something, it’s hard not to talk about it and share it with others. That’s the idea of seed planting – the potential that every one of us has to influence another and to be a part of their journey toward Christ Jesus.