Our ABC Values
At Salt of the Earth Communities we deeply value relationships. Our relationships with God and other people are the ‘Why’ behind our ‘What’ – the things we do. We have identified six core values – our ‘ABC Values’ that guide our decisions and help us to remain true to who God has made us to be.
Abiding in the Almighty… because our Lord desires to be with us, and He graciously gives us holistic rest and fruitful work (Exodus 2:8-11; John 15:1-11; Luke 11:9-13).
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
This is a question you’re likely familiar with. You were probably asked this at some point in your life. Maybe you’ve even asked others this question. We know that work is a good and necessary thing for people. To prepare for our work, we spend many years of our lives “working” by going to school so we can learn, train, and become productive members of our society. Work is a huge component of our lives.
But at the same time, we know that work can consume us. When we’re in school tests and papers can cause a lot of anxiety. Long hours on the job can rob us of sleep and exercise. The demands of our work often doesn’t go away when we leave the office. Instead, they hang over us like a dark cloud. And children quickly pick up on the fact that their parent’s work is robbing them of time together. We can become workaholics, and too much work affects us negatively – physically, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually.
When God created us, He created us to work. Adam, the first man, worked as a gardener. And it was good – God said so! But God also created humans to rest. It even seems that before Adam ever planted a seed or harvested the fruits and vegetables growing in the Garden of Eden, he and Eve spent a whole day resting. The first Sabbath.
This Sabbath rest was not just physical, it was spiritual and included a special time of togetherness for nurturing the relationship between man and God. It was from this rest that Adam worked in the garden. It’s as if God created humans to live in a healthy rhythm of rest and work.
But when sin entered into this world this rhythm was disrupted. And as this rhythm was disrupted, our relationship with God was broken.
During His earthly ministry Jesus not only had healthy rhythms of rest and work for Himself, but He also invited His followers to abide, or remain, in Him. Through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection all people are invited into a relationship with God Almighty and are now free to live according to our God-given rhythms of rest and work. We rest physically (sleep, days off, vacations, etc.) and spiritually (hearing God’s Word, prayer, worship gatherings, etc.) And when we work we work as if we are working for the Lord Himself. We faithfully respond to God’s grace and truth by intentionally leaning into these rhythms of rest and work and our doing so is nothing less than an act of worship.
Built Together as the Body of Christ… because the church is made of people from diverse backgrounds who have been given a variety of gifts (Matt. 18:15-20; John 13:35; 1 Cor. 12:12-31; Eph. 4:1-16)
A human body is one of the most prevalent metaphors for the church seen throughout the New Testament of the Bible. This metaphor aptly captures the reality that even though individual Christians have differences (race, socio-economic status, gender, etc.), we are all united by our faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. We are told in Ephesians 4 that Christ has purposely given different gifts to His followers with the intention that we are to work together using these gifts to build up His church. Jesus told His disciples at the Last Supper that this unity and love for one another is the primary means by which the world can identify us as Christians. (John 13:35)
And yet, anyone who has ever attempted to have a relationship with another person knows they are difficult. Unity is beautiful in theory, but messy in practice. This can be seen all around – family feuds, conflicts at work, spats between neighbors. Membership in a church doesn’t instantly remove these messy experiences. In many ways, church can serve to highlight the messiness of our relationships. Individuals can get into arguments with each other over worship preferences. Congregations have split over building projects. And various denominations of the church are quick to point out their differences from each other rather than their oneness in Christ. Lord, have mercy!
In the face of these messy realities we believe, teach, and confess the one, holy, catholic (i.e. universal) church. When we experience divisions in the church we should recognize they aren’t from Jesus. We must repent of our broken relationships with fellow Christians and live in the unity the Word teaches about the body of Christ. It is for just this purpose that Jesus has given us principles for lovingly dealing with conflict within the church (Matt. 18:15-20). Not only that, but Jesus has given His church a unity meal, Holy Communion. In this meal Christians join together around the very thing that unites them, the death and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus promises to be in this meal and to give reconciliation and unity to all who believe. In this way, Jesus builds His church together into the body of believers.
Christ as the Key… because all God’s promises find their Yes in Him (2 Cor. 1:20).
Our primary value at Salt of the Earth Communities is a no-brainer. Jesus has been, is, and will always be the main “value” for Christians. Christ is the key to understanding who God is. He is the key to understanding who we are as men and women. He makes sense of the world we live in. Christ is the key to understanding the Bible; His words are the ones we listen to and obey. He makes sense of the entirety of life. His way of life shows us what it looks like to fully love God and others. All of this is just as true today as it was during His time on earth two thousand years ago.
We also realize that we, as humans, have very short memories. We quickly forget to keep Christ as the Key! As life happens – with all its responsibilities, worries, joys, and heartaches – we can easily lose sight of the One who makes sense of it all. When we take our eyes off Christ, things go out of focus and we are left groping our way through life as blind men. This is true for individuals, families, and congregations.
Fortunately, Christ continually comes to us to remind us of who He is and what He has done for us. Every time the Good News is proclaimed, Jesus is there. Every time we take the Lord’s Supper, we are reminded of Christ and receive Him and His grace again. For this reason, we talk about and celebrate Christ often. He is the key to everything!
Christ as the Key is the value that gives rise to our other values at Salt of the Earth Communities. Our ultimate desire is that all people – including you! – would come to know Christ as the key in their lives!
Discipleship as the Directive… because Jesus builds His church as His disciples make disciples that make disciples (Matt. 16:18, 28:19-20; 2 Tim. 2:2).
Jesus’ final instruction to His disciples before His ascension was, “Go make disciples.” At first, this seems to be pretty plain and clear, and in many ways it is. And yet, we hold this before us as a value at Salt of the Earth Communities because we recognize our own tendency to lose focus on this instruction from Jesus.
First, we have to make sure we understand what a disciple is. The word ‘disciple’ literally means ‘learner.’ Disciples of Jesus learn from Jesus and follow in His ways, His words, and His works. A disciple who follows Jesus is similar to a child who learns from and follows her parents.
Second, since Jesus is the best disciple-maker, we look at the things He did in order to make disciples. He taught them about the things of God and man. Sometimes this teaching came through formal sermons to large groups of people, as in the Sermon on the Mount. Sometimes this teaching came through informal conversations over a meal with His disciples. Regardless of how it happened, Christ was always teaching His disciples. Jesus also modeled how to do things like pray to God and how to live as a servant to others. This shows us that part of discipling others is giving them a life to imitate. The apostle Paul puts it this way to some of his disciples – “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1) Finally, Jesus enabled his disciples to innovate upon the things he taught and modeled for them into their own lives. He did this as part of their discipleship, long before His ascension, by sending them out to do things like share the Gospel and perform miracles (!).
Finally, Jesus tells His disciples that Baptism in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is a necessary part of discipleship. Baptism marks the time when one begins to follow Jesus. Baptism is also a way that God gives His grace, forgiveness, and power – the same power that raised Jesus from the dead – to His followers.
As we continue to maintain focus upon Discipleship as the Directive, Jesus will continue to build His church. May this happen to the glory of God!
Engagement with the Everyday… because Jesus has made us the salt of the earth (Matt. 5:13-16).
As we set out to follow Jesus, one of the things we can do is look at the people and places where He hung out. When we look at His life in the Bible, we see Him spending time with religious people (e.g. Pharisees, Sadducees, and Scribes), in religious places (e.g. synagogues and the Temple). And we also see Him spending time with “everyday” people (e.g. fishermen, tax collectors) and in “everyday” places (e.g. homes, wedding receptions). The reason for this is simple: Jesus is for ALL people. His message of love, life, and forgiveness (the Gospel) transcends race, gender, socio-economic status, and political affiliations.
As Christians, we have been empowered by Jesus to take the Gospel to the whole world. We are, as Jesus said, “the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13). What a blessing and honor it is, especially in a culture that is so polarized, to share the love of God in this way!
Family as the Foundation… because God has created and redeemed us for life together (Gen. 1:26-28, 2:18; Acts 2:38-47, 4:32-35).
Thanksgiving. Picnics in a park. Flipping through an old photo album. What do all these things have in common? Quite often, all these things include family. Our relationship with our family tends to be among the deepest and dearest things in our whole life. And rightly so; it is how God designed us! From the beginning God has given us family as a gift.
Sadly, and in various ways, family is broken today. Parents are unloving to their children. Siblings develop rivalries that stem from greed and jealousy. Addictions can lead to abusive marriages. The list is unending.
But Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection is more than good news for individuals; it is good news for families! In Christ, there is forgiveness and reconciliation. In fact, Christ’s church is nothing more than an extended spiritual family. While Jesus was dying on the cross, some of His last words were spoken to one of His disciples and His mother. “He said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!” (John 19: 26-27) From that moment forward, the church has existed as family.
At Salt of the Earth Communities we value family and desire, by God’s grace, to extend spiritual family throughout the church and community. May it be so to God’s glory!