Four Priorities of Reach Italy
Updated: Jan 6, 2022
Eventually we may have more (or less!) that we want to say about this and I hesitate to say these are "the" four priorities as if they are the only priorities, but as a point of reference as we conceive of our identity, I offer these four thoughts:
The Priority of Christ--What would it be like to actually meet Jesus face to face here on earth in some normal routine of life and before you die? Fantastically surreal? Emotional? Mind-blowing? The reality is that Jesus taught that anyone who saw him was seeing God the Father and, as God the Father sent Jesus to earth to demonstrate how God looks like when dressed like a human, so Jesus sends his disciples to represent him and so look and act and speak as he does. That is, those who have believed in Christ and have been made alive, "regenerated" or born again, and who now follow him, aka, his disciples, are the physical manifestation of Jesus on this earth. To flourish as humans in the way that God intended, believers must recognize the amazing reality of Christ's dwelling inside them and then what...? The Christian life is nothing more and nothing less than living the life of Jesus in our unique contexts. In other words, we can both meet Jesus face to face every day and offer the reality of experiencing Jesus who acts in the believer to everyone we meet. Is that not an amazing thought? You and I can actually realize an accurate representation of Christ in the lives of those we meet and can respond to Christ in others as they manifest him. Is this a marginal teaching? No! Christ in you and you in Christ is the central message of the New Testament and is the core message of the church and thus Reach Italy.
The Priority of the Bible--Jesus is the center of the Christian life, the church's life, and Reach Italy. One prominent description of Jesus besides the Life of the believer in the world is that he is the Truth and the "Word of God." Maybe that seems a strange way to describe Jesus. It may mean many things, but words are symbolic representations of unseen thoughts and John's message is that Jesus is the visible representation of the unseen God. By knowing him we have direct connection to God himself. The Bible, like Jesus, is also the Word of God. The Bible offers a revelation of Jesus in words that enables us to know God in Jesus and come to a mature understanding of the Christian life--being filled with Christ and by his power living as Christ in this world. Thus, knowing the Bible intimately and integrating the whole of the Word into all of life is key to being a Christian.
The Priority of People--Embracing Jesus and his Word naturally leads us next to God's priorities and his first priority in his creation are the people of this world. Humans are uniquely made in God's image and are both the culmination and the custodians of his creation. As such, God clearly communicates that he longs to enter and develop a covenant relationship with people. The Bible tells a history of God's efforts to redeem and restore people as the crown of his creation and to cultivate a relationship where we represent him on this earth. The gospel is good news directed at all humans and naturally touches all aspects of being human, both the inner and the outer person. Inwardly Jesus transforms the hearts of people who have a covenant relationship with him. Outwardly, society, nations, and nature itself are transformed by humans who live lives surrendered to his Spirit and reflect the very nature of God. The most visible expression of Christ is the Body of Christ, that is the church. Together, Christians are able to reveal God by filling unique roles of love and service. Christians meet together regularly to care for each other and experience the Word proclaimed and applied; together they serve as a prophetic voice to the world of God's sovereign presence and his will; and, together they attend to those who have yet to experience a direct encounter with the gracious and merciful God. Knowing Jesus means knowing what it means to be truly human, which leads to wisdom and insight into ourselves and the people around us.
The Priority of the World--The last priority is a derivative of the priorities of Christ, the Bible, and people, and that is, that Christians are focused on the world. Certainly we recognize the need to "act locally," cultivate our inner life of the Spirit, and love our near neighbors, but the Scriptures have a global perspective and recognize that God's ultimate plan is to reign over the world. The ultimate and beautiful plan is for Christ to rule in our hearts through his Word and transform lives, but the natural result is a church that expands into the whole world and seeks to bring his salvation and forgiveness to all who will call on him. Christians who represent Christ are ambassadors and actively pursue carrying the culture of Christ to the furthest reaches of the world. Our name is Reach Italy and our focus is on the unreached in this overlooked nation, but the ultimate end of all our efforts is to bring the hope and transforming life of Christ through teaching the Bible to all people and cultures and to the ends of the earth!