Jesus is the way to live.
The basis for everything we do is the life and teachings of Jesus, as recorded in the Bible.
Many of Jesus’ most powerful statements were recorded in one long message known as The Sermon on the Mount, an introduction to Jesus’ values spoken to his initial group of followers. Here are a few examples:
“You have heard that it was said long ago, ˜Do not murder,’. . . . But I say that anyone who is angry with his brother will be under judgment.” Matthew 5:21
“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:44
“Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:48
“Do not invest in treasures on earth, where moths and rust destroy, and where thieves can break in and steal, but invest in treasure in heaven . . . . For where your treasure is, your heart will be as well.” Matthew 6:19-21
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For when you judge others you will be judged the same way.” Matthew 7:1-2
All of these statements set a high standard of thinking and behavior that deserves close examination, both of their full meaning and their working out in our lives. Our desire is to be carefully help each other to apply principles such as these both in our personal lives and in what we do together.
Many of Jesus’ parables refer to something he called the “kingdom of God” or “kingdom of heaven”. But it is clear that Jesus did not mean for this “kingdom” to be only some sort of future paradise, but an invisible realm of God’s goodness here and now.
Below is a set of key principles that we find in Jesus’ teaching about that kingdom, and how we seek to apply them in our work together.
He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.” Matthew 13:31-32
Principle: God’s goodness works in smallness.
Application: We encourage small reproducing organizational models.
“And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet.” John 13:14
Principle: The greatest in the Kingdom of God must be the least.
Application: We encourage leaders to put others above themselves.
Spread Like Yeast
He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.”-Matthew 13:33
Principle: God’s goodness is meant to infect all of society.
Application: We encourage models of ministry that move the church into homes, workplaces etc.
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it. -Matthew 13:44-46
Principle: The Kingdom of God is worth giving up everything.
Application: We encourage sacrificial giving and lifestyle, applying all of our resources to reaching others.
A Grain of Wheat
Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. -John 12:24
Principle: The Kingdom of God grows when we give ourselves away.
Application: We encourage leaders to seek to raise up others to replace themselves.
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. -Matthew 18:1-5
Principle: The weak, poor, & helpless are important in God’s kingdom.
Application: We encourage ministry among the poor to be high priority for everyone.
The Generosity of the Widow
Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.
Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” -Mark 12:41-44
Principle: The poor have much to give.
Application: We see huge potential in people from needy backgrounds, and encourage them to give to others.
“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” -Matthew 9:16-17
Principle: The changing world requires changing paradigms.
Application: We encourage skilled creativity and aggressive innovation.
Here are some general priorities that we note from Jesus’ life, that we strive to apply to our personal lives and to our organizational programs:
Compassion for the Broken
Jesus showed deep concern for people with physical, spiritual and psychological hurts.
True Servant Leadership
His whole intent was not to make a name for himself, but to empower others.
In a culture where women were barely second-class citizens, Jesus gave them respect and importance.
He lived to teach, and found teachable moments in everything he did.
He regularly challenged the working assumptions of his day.