In the Beginning // Designed for Good
The Bible teaches us that God made everything and He made it good. He made the light, the oceans, stars, the moon, trees, fish, birds, animals of every kind, and that He made human beings too. The Bible says that He made man and woman both in His image, or in His likeness. That means we share characteristics with God like creativity, personality, a desire for community and love, even emotions. Things were good.
The world God created was designed to take care of us and we were designed to flourish in human communities as we cared for the world.
People were designed to love and serve one another.
We were each designed to live in a trusting and intimate relationship with God as our just and loving leader. The world and all that’s in it was designed for good.
But that isn’t how things are. The world is messed up. No normal person thinks that suffering, violence and oppression are good things. No one throws a party for the bloodbath in Syria and Iraq, when a child is infected with AIDS, or when the Towers fell in New York.
Most people ache for a better world.
The Bible indicates the reason we have this ache is because such a better world once existed and will exist again.
Bad Choices // Damaged By Evil
When we lived under God’s leadership, we experienced a good world. But we rejected God’s leadership, took charge, put ourselves in the center and essentially became our own god.
We chose to do wrong, and to avoid trusting and loving God by obeying Him. This choice to do evil damaged all of us. The relationship we had with God broke, and when that broke so did our good relationship with each other, with our world, even how we saw and understood ourselves. Things are not the way that God wanted them to be.
On every level, we have become corrupt. We see evidence of this corruption all around us. On the bigger level, we damage our world. We destructively use the world and the people in it for our own benefit instead of serving them. And on a personal level, we damage ourselves, and our relationship with God. We all contribute to the problem.
Since the fall of Adam, people are unable to do the right thing on their own. This is because of what we call “original sin,” which is not simply the following of Adam’s example, but the corruption of the nature of each person, changing who they are and making them so inclined to hurt each other and forget God that they don’t even realize they are doing it.
Because of it, humans by nature are continually inclined to evil. They cannot by themselves even call on God for help. Education, technology, and government never get to the root of the problem.
But God loved the world too much to leave it this way.
The Atonement // Restored for Better
In His great love God responds to the injustice and corruption and sends Jesus into the world.
Through Jesus Christ the grace of God makes possible what humans can’t do by themselves. It is bestowed freely upon all, enabling all who want to, to turn away from evil and be saved.
Jesus did three things:
Identified: Jesus became one of us, identifying with us by living in a damaged world (though he never contributed to the damage).
Owned: Jesus died on the cross, owning the judgment we deserve for the corruption of the world and the corruption in our heart.
Overcame: Jesus rose from the dead, overcoming death and unleashing power to restore our damaged world.
Jesus came to restore the world and everything in it to what God intended. Through Jesus Christ the grace of God makes possible what humans can’t do by themselves; become whole and truly good.
We believe that Christ followers are made new. This is that work of the Holy Spirit where when someone repents and believes, that person is given a spiritual life with a new ability to love and obey God. This new life enables the believer to live the life God intended by turning our hearts out toward God, others, and the world around us, instead of turned inward on ourselves like they were before.
God’s Mission // Sent Together to Heal
Jesus calls us to follow Him as he heals the damage in the world. By following him, we become the hands and feet of Jesus in the world
On the bigger level, Jesus has the power to restore our damaged world. He invites us to follow him together into his world to expose corruption and bring justice and to love joyfully.
Jesus has the power to restore our relationships. He invites us to follow him by serving, loving, and forgiving each other.
Jesus has the power to restore our relationship with God. He invites us to follow him by coming under his leadership.
We follow Jesus by:
Identifying: We identify with Jesus’ work by believing his death and resurrection broke the cycle of corruption in us and in the world.
Owning: We own our own responsibility for the damaged world and receive his forgiveness.
Overcoming: We overcome the damage in our world by committing to follow Jesus into his mission to the world.
God gives us the power to follow Jesus by giving us his Spirit and a community of people who also follow Jesus. With these resources, Jesus is calling us to be sent together to heal the world.
That is what Cultivate Church is all about.