La Vista Church of Christ 2015 Annual Theme
Growing as Disciples
Disciple: A learner, pupil, or follower devoted to the teachings of a master.
In John 14:6, Jesus said "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me." Jesus holds the key to heaven and our salvation, and we can only be with God by following Jesus, his example, and his teaching; by being his devoted and committed disciple.
In 2015, the La Vista church will focus on "Growing as Disciples" -- learning more about Christ, being more devoted to Christ, and being more like Christ. There are four key elements:
Strengthening our relationship with Jesus as our Teacher, Master, and Savior
We must first truly understand the depth of our need for Jesus. Romans 3:23 and 6:23 teach that we are sinners, and deserving eternal separation from God. But Jesus loved us so much, he volunteered to die in our place, in a cruel and horrible death on the cross. And, even more amazingly, he didn't do this for those who were worthy of his sacrifice, but specifically for those who were unworthy of it, for sinners (Romans 5:8). Christ died for us so we could be redeemed (Ephesians 1:7), and to bring us back to God (I Peter 3:18). He promised if we obey him, we will be saved (Hebrews 5:9). Jesus sacrificed himself in our place to give us everything and, therefore, we must give him everything — our obedience, our faith, and our love -- because he first loved us (I John 4:19).
Walking in the light, living a Christian life, letting others see Christ in us
John 12:36 tells us that Jesus is the light, and we are to become "sons of light." I John 1:7 tells us that we are to "walk in the light." Recall that Jesus said that he is truth (John 14:6) and III John 3 tells us we are to "walk in truth." II John 4 tells us to "walk in his commandments" and John 14:15 tells us "if we love Jesus we will obey his commandments." We are commanded to walk as Jesus would walk, and live as Jesus would live, and obey his teachings. Walking in the light also means that we are to be an example of good deeds (Titus 2:7) to all of those around us of what it means to be a Christian, and in so doing we will glorify God before all men (Matthew 5:16).
Loving each other, and putting others before ourselves
Jesus commanded us to "love one another" and said that by loving one another all men will know we are his disciples (John 13:34-35). And fundamental to loving one another is serving one another. Christ himself set the perfect example that even as the Son of God, Jesus "did not come to be served, but to serve" (Matthew 20:28). Galatians 5:13 tells us "in love we are to serve one another," and we learn from I Peter 4:10 that we are to employ every gift God gives us in serving others. This applies to all of us, whether we believe we have gifts to offer or not; recall that I Corinthians 12:12-27 teaches that every Christian has a role in the work of the church. Philippians 2:3-4 tells us that with all humility, we should regard others as more important than ourselves. That means putting others' needs ahead of our own. Jesus set that perfect example too, when he died on the cross so that we might live.
Teaching those who don't know Jesus
Jesus told his disciples to "go into the world and make disciples of all nations" (Mathew 28:19). We have that same responsibly too. Jesus told the demon-possessed man in Matthew 5:19 to "go tell people what great things the Lord has done for you." How wonderful are the things God has done for us? Should we keep them to ourselves, or do like Paul instructed Timothy -- to teach others? (II Timothy 2:2). When Jesus addressed the need for people to spread the gospel, he told his disciples that "the harvest is plenty, but the workers are few" and then told them to pray to God to send workers into the field (Matthew 9:37-38). We, as Christ's disciples, have the responsibility to fulfill Jesus' prayer, and tend to the harvest.