Servants’ Commitment To Belief & Action
Servants affirms the traditional creeds of historic Christianity (see below). We are a broad ecumenical Christian community, including folk from Evangelical, Episcopal, Charismatic, Orthodox, Catholic and Mennonite backgrounds – and more. In order to work together, we embrace with grace and love a wide range of theological perspectives, biblical interpretations and spiritual practices.
Whatever our spiritual heritage, when faced with poverty, suffering and evil, we sometimes find ourselves forced to rethink our faith in new ways. Therefore, in Servants we want our community to be a safe place where people feel able to ask deep, hard questions, and are supported in their struggles. We welcome honest theological debate – so long as it is done with love and mutual respect in a genuine endeavour to hear each other.
There is also a significant range of ages and life stages within Servants, from singles in their 20s, through to grandparents. Often the young bring us a sense of urgency, energy and idealism, while the over 40s tend to be stronger on perseverance, wisdom and extending grace.
It’s our great hope that we may embrace each other as sisters and brothers in Christ, despite all our differences. When tensions arise, what needs to hold us together is love – love of Jesus and love of one another as fellow travellers of His way.
In order to more fully express the theology Servants workers try to live out, we have set out the following ‘commitment to belief and action’:
We are Sons and Daughters, Followers and Learners.
As sons and daughters of the living God, our goal is to be disciples of Jesus: his apprentices and learners, those committed to following him and living out his teachings (Luke 6:46; Matthew 6:21-27). The goal of our discipleship is to become more like Jesus (Matthew 10:24; Luke 6:40; 2 Corinthians 3:17-18), and therefore more like God. Our desire is that in both beliefs and deeds, our lives will bear true witness to Jesus – his teachings, life, death and resurrection. We believe this is the purpose that we were created for.
We are God’s Image Bearers.
We believe that our Universe – and all it consists of, visible and invisible – has been created by God (Genesis 1:1; Hebrews 11:3). We believe that God is One – Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19, Genesis 1:26) – and is the model of the perfectly loving community to which God calls us all (John 17:17-23; Galatians 3:26-29; Ephesians 4:1-6). We believe that every man, woman and child has been created in the image of God, and therefore that every human life is equally priceless, sacred, full of dignity, creative potential and untold beauty (Genesis 1:27, Galatians 3:26; James 2:15).
We are Fallen. The Cross of Christ Restores Us.
We believe that humanity, though beautifully crafted in the image of God, is also fallen, fallible, self-centered, self-destructive and in desperate need of redemption (Genesis 3 and 4, Jeremiah 17:9-10, Ephesians1:3-10). We believe that Jesus’ life, sacrificial death, resurrection and out-poured Spirit can free us from lives of sin, selfishness and destruction, and enable us to live new lives of love, mercy, forgiveness, reconciliation, righteousness and justice (2 Corinthians 5:14-21; Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 1:3-10; Colossians 1:13-23). We believe that in dying on the cross, Jesus took upon himself – and so defeated – the powers of sin, death and hatred. We believe that upon the cross, Jesus bridged the gap between God and humanity, heaven and earth, between races, nationalities, classes and genders, making possible their reconciliation (Ephesians 1:7-10, 2:11-22; Galatians 3:26-29; Colossians 1:15-22, 2:9-15). We believe that we are reconciled to God by his grace and goodness. We believe that Jesus reconciles us to God by absorbing into himself upon the cross the destructive consequences of human rebellion.This is an act of love on the part of God to be accepted by us as a gift (Ephesians 2:5-9); but at the same time God recruits us to go and do his good works (Ephesians 2:10; Matthew 5:13-16; Matthew 25:31-46). We believe this is the purpose that we were created for.
We are Created for Love.
We believe that we were created for the purpose of enjoying a relationship of love with God and with each other, both now and forever (John 17:3, 20-26; 1 John 1:1-9, 4:16-21). We believe that because of the cross and through encountering the risen Christ we can have this kind of relationship with God and each other. We believe that God is love (1 John 4:16). We believe that he commands us to live a life of loving service (John 13) and compassion (Luke 6:35-36, 10:25-37; Ephesians 4:32-5:2) – a life that flows out of relationship with Jesus, our Lord, our Teacher, our Model, our empowerer, our brother, our friend (John 15, 15 and 16; Hebrews 2:10-11).
We are made to enjoy God and his Creation.
We believe that we were created to enjoy and care for God’s creation, both for the sake of its intrinsic beauty and diversity (reflections of God’s beauty and creativity) and because God himself loves and delights in it (Genesis 1:24-31; Genesis 8:21, 9:12-13; Psalm 45:3, Psalm 65:9, 12-13; Psalm 98:4-8; Proverbs 8:22-31); and in order to steward creation for the future – and especially for those who have been most denied fair access to it (2 Corinthians 8:13-15). We believe that one day all creation will be liberated and redeemed from suffering, death and decay (Romans 8:18-23; Isaiah 65:17-25; Micah 4:1-5), and that we are stewards, called to play a part in that redemptive process for our environment. We believe that God will hold us accountable for how we have cared for and stewarded his creation, and worked for its liberty and redemption (Revelation 11:18).
We have been given a Mission.
We believe that Jesus is the Christ, the promised Prophet and Messiah, the hope of all people, the Son of God (Matthew 16:16). We believe that Jesus is the clearest revelation of God on earth – having come as a poor man and as a servant among an oppressed people (Matthew 2:13-23; John 1:1-4, 14 and 18; John 12:44-46; John 14:8-9; Philippians 2:5-11; Hebrews 1:1-3). We believe that Jesus is the Son of Man, the Human One, the fullest expression of humanity (Mark 10:45; Hebrews 2:5-18, 5:7-10). We believe he came to model and enable all of us to live a life that is truly life – life in all its fullness (John 10:10). We believe that as we learn the lesson of his chosen poverty and simplicity, we who follow him will learn to be content with ‘enough’, and will share what we possess with those who have less, so that all might have enough (2 Corinthians 8.9, 13-15; 1 Timothy 6:6-10, 6:17-19). We believe he came to proclaim good news to the poor, salvation for the lost, freedom to the imprisoned, sight for the blind, liberation for the oppressed, and hope for the indebted (Luke 4:18-19). It is Christ’s mission to bring wholeness and healing to creation (Romans 8:18-21; Colossians 1:15-20), that those made in the image of God might be set free from sin, suffering and injustice (John 8:34-36; Luke 13:10-16; Matthew 12:15-21). He calls his people to partner with him and each other in fulfilling this mission (Isaiah 58:6-11). Both our words and our deeds should be ‘Good News’ for the world around us.
We are called to Seek First the Kingdom of God.
We believe that Jesus calls us to partner with him in seeking, proclaiming, praying and labouring for the kingdom of God. We believe this is the purpose that we were created for. (Matthew 6:9-13, 6:33, 10:7-8; Colossians 4:11). This kingdom is manifest any place where God’s justice, righteousness, peace and joy begin to reign (Romans 14:17-18). This kingdom was foreshadowed in the Old Testament through the nation of Israel (Genesis 12:1-3; Exodus 19:3-6), but began to break in most clearly upon the earth with the coming of Jesus, the servant-king (Mark 1:14-15; 10:42-45) and with the outpouring of God’s Spirit (Luke 11:20; Acts 1:6-8; Acts 2), but will not be completed until that longed-for day that Jesus returns (Revelation 21, 22). But in the meantime, Jesus commands us to go everywhere in the power of his Spirit and call all of humanity to receive his king-ship and work for his kingdom. We are to go and make disciples in every place, by teaching them to obey all that Jesus has taught (Matthew 28: 18-20), calling them to come together in communities of worship, resource-sharing, compassion and service (John 13:34-35; Acts 2:42-47, 4:32-45). We believe that God continues to raise up many and diverse expressions of Christian community (his body, the church) all over the world, the appearance of which will be unique according to the context in which they arise, yet alike in that they will always seek to be faithful to the teachings of Jesus.
We Cannot Love God unless we Love People.
We believe that all the sacred Law and commandments, all the teachings of the prophets and apostles, are summed up by Jesus’ Great Command to ‘love God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength and to love your neighbour’s life as if it were your very own’ (Matthew 22:34-40; Galatians 5:14). We believe this is the purpose that we were created for. We believe these two commands are interdependent and indivisible (Matthew 22:36-40; Galatians 5:14), for it is only by loving neighbours, strangers and enemies, and by acting in compassion for those who suffer, that we demonstrate genuine love for God (Matthew 25:31-46; Romans 14:9-21; 1 John 3:17).
Jesus and his Way: our Path and our Goal.
We believe the way that Jesus has modeled and taught us is a way of humility, forgiveness, reconciliation and loving service (Isaiah 9:2-7; Luke 23:32-34) and therefore a way that refuses to employ violence, coercion or manipulation in pursuing its ends (Matthew 5:38-48; Romans 12:9-21; 2 Corinthians 2:17, 4:1-3, 5:11). We repudiate violence and militarism as works of the Evil One that destroy life and steal resources from the poor. Instead, we believe that Jesus calls us to follow his way of peace-making and reconciliation, and so bear prophetic witness to his coming Kingdom (Isaiah 2:2-5, 9:2-7; Matthew 5:7-95:16, 5:21-25, 5:43-48, 6:14-15).
Christ’s Spirit in us makes all things Possible.
We believe that it is only by realising we are God’s sons and daughters (John 1:12-13; Galatians 3:26-4:7; 1 John 3:1-3), and by seeking to be filled and possessed by God’s Holy Spirit, inviting his power, gifts, fruit and character to develop in us (Luke 11:13; Acts 1:8; Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:1-31; Ephesians 4:7-13; Galatians 5:22) that we can live this Christ-life. We must depend completely on him, for we know that “apart from him we can do nothing” (John 15:5).
We are being Transformed by Grace…
We believe that we – as individuals and as communities – have been created to become more and more like Jesus (Matthew 10:24; Ephesians 5:1; 1 John 1:3-6; 1 Corinthians 11:1). Our being transformed into the likeness of Christ is brought about by God’s overwhelming love, by his unearned grace, by us spending time in community with him and with our sisters and brothers, by doing his works, by experiencing the power of his Spirit, and by our obedience to his Word. This process of transformation that comes through following Jesus begins now, today, but will not be complete until we see him face to face in the future (2 Corinthians 3:18, 5:16 – 6:1-21, 1 Corinthians 13:12; 1 John 3:1-3).
and by Obedience to God’s Word.
We believe that the Scriptures are inspired by God and useful for our training, equipping and transformation as we meditate on, study and apply them (2 Timothy 2:15, 3:16), and that our approach to the Scriptures must be one of faithfulness and application (1 Timothy 6:1-5; James 1:21-22). We believe that the ultimate purpose of Scripture (the written Word) is to lead us into relationship with Jesus (Luke 24:7; John 5:39-40; Hebrews 1:1-3), the Living Word (John 1:1, 1:14; Hebrews 1:1-4; Revelation 19:11-13), that we might be transformed (Romans 12:1-2), becoming more like him.
We believe that in his teachings, (especially the Beatitudes, Matthew 5:1-13; Luke 6:20-26) Jesus most clearly describes and prescribes the kind of people we are to become, and in his teachings (especially in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew chapters 5-7) Jesus most emphatically mandates the kind of lives we should be living towards that end. We want to make real in our lives the Lordship of Jesus and hold central his teachings as the foundation of all we are and do (Luke 6:46; Matthew 7:21; 2 Corinthians 4:1-6).
We are Accountable for how we live our Lives.
We believe that every one of us is responsible to God for all that we do (or fail to do), and that one day each of us shall stand before God and give an account for how we have lived our lives (Hebrews 4:13; Matthew 25:31-46; James 4:17). We believe that the more gifts, knowledge or resources we as an individual or community have been given, the greater our responsibility to use those for the glory of God and the benefit of others (Luke 12:42-48; James 3:14-19; 1 John 3:16-18).
Actions speak louder than Words.
We believe that in the Gospels Jesus has given us three overriding mandates: the Great Commission (Mathew 28:18-20) to proclaim his teachings and make disciples in all the world; the Great Commandment (John 13:34-35) to love one another, so that the world would know that we belong to him; and the Great Compassion (Matthew 25:31-46), to serve those who are oppressed by poverty, suffering and injustice. These are mandates to done, not merely thought about, talked about or prayed about.
We believe Jesus is saying to us: talk is cheap (1 John 3:16-20), knowledge without love is empty (1 Corinthians 8:1), faith without action is dead (James 2:14-19), and that doctrine without a lifestyle of discipleship is hypocrisy (Luke 6:46-49; Matthew 23:1-32). Therefore we believe that it is not enough to ‘believe’ (James 3:19), but that we are called to live lives of faith and following, belief and action. We wish to be more than admirers of Jesus; our goal is to be his disciples.
——————————— Many of us have found James Fowler’s framework for stages of faith development quite helpful – see his book Stages of Faith (Harper & Row, 1981).