In the Reforming Church, the Followers of the Way of Jesus Christ embrace his values. The church, as the community of Jesus’ followers, is bound together by those values. Jesus’ values are the hope that God holds for the world, and as such are the hope for the world. His values of hope are not unfamiliar to us. They are the hope of the prophets who dared to speak to God’s people mired in despair: good news to the poor, proclaiming release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, advocacy for freedom of the oppressed (Luke 4:18, Jesus’ inaugural sermon based on the text in Isaiah 61:1-5). The hope of Jesus and his mandate for his followers is food for the hungry, refreshment for the thirsty, welcome for the stranger, clothes for the naked, care and presence for the sick and those in prison (Matthew 5:31-46). The way of Jesus values is love, joy, and peace, patience, kindness and generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22, NRSV).
For this reason, the church is not irrelevant to the urgency in the world. It is an alternative voice to the nations crying war and blood and our streets hosting sacrificial deaths to maintain unholy values and the greed that anchors the world’s economies. It is not a partisan vehicle co-opting a party line. It is not a party to divisions that wound and tear down. It is a voice of wisdom that decries the secrets hiding hate and prejudice and shame. It is shalom – the salvation possible only when all is right in the world – upsetting the values system of a cruel world. It is the hope that repairs the breaches and paves the way to the life God offers as a precious gift.