Living Our Core Values
The Church of the Nazarene has three core values. Not everyone knows that. Not even every Nazarene knows that. For those who do not know the core values of the Church of the Nazarene, we will be examining all three of them in this post. For those who do know them, we will be contemplating how we, as individuals, can apply them to our lives.
The first core value of the Church of the Nazarene is that we are a Christian people. Indeed, this is the bedrock upon which everything else is founded. If Christ is the Chief Cornerstone of the church (and He is), then any group that does not have Him as their cornerstone is not properly a church. I am glad to say that the Church of the Nazarene is a church in the proper sense.
The Church of the Nazarene is, specifically, a Christian denomination in the Wesleyan-Arminian tradition. This means that our theological "heritage" can be traced back through John Wesley and to Jacob Arminius. It also means that, while we may not agree with 4 of the points of Calvinism (Total Depravity being the exception), we still consider Calvinists our brothers and sisters in Christ, despite our differences. We hold a common faith with all those who have placed their trust in Christ as Savior and Lord.
How can we apply this core value to our lives? Let me ask a couple of diagnostic questions before we explore this:
1. Does your neighbor know that you are a Christian?
2. How many people have you shared your faith with this year?
3. If Christianity were to become illegal, would you be convicted in a court of law based solely on your words and actions?
The last question in this series is the best litmus test that I have found to date on whether or not I am living out my faith in the manner that I should be. But let's turn our attention back to specific applications of this core value. Let me propose three:
1.) Live in such a way that those you meet will not have to ask whether or not you are a Christian. Let them know that you are by observing your lifestyle.
2.) Pick an area every month in which you could become more Christlike. Make it a goal to become more Christlike in this area over the course of the month (and not to stop at the end of the month).
3.) Covenant never to hide your faith.
These are just suggestions, and are not the only things you can do to live Christianly. If you are doing these things, great! If not, it's not too late to start.
The second core value of the Church of the Nazarene is that we are a holiness people. In fact, emblazoned on the official seal of the Church of the Nazarene is the phrase "Holiness Unto The Lord". So what does it mean to be a holiness people, anyway?
In the book of Leviticus, God repeats the command for the Israelites to be holy on multiple occasions. God intended the Israelites to be His holy people, His treasure among the nations. They were to reflect God and show the world who He is by the way they lived. While Israel ultimately failed at this and was sent into exile as a result, holiness was, nonetheless, what God desired for the nation.
The Apostle Peter repeats the injunction to be holy. In the same way that God called the nation of Israel to be holy, Christ calls His church to be holy. A holiness people is a people who take seriously this injunction to live a holy life. While we could go more in-depth with a definition, this one is basic and fits the purpose of this post.
It should be noted what kind of holiness we are talking about when we say we are a holiness people. We are not implying that we are somehow, or somehow can become, holy in ourselves. This type of holiness is an attribute of God alone. The holiness that we strive for can be thought of as a reflection. In the same way that the moon reflects the light of the sun, so we are to reflect God. We have to remember that holiness does not boil down to a list of "do's" and "dont's." That is, holiness is more about a condition of the heart than it is about whether or not women only wear long skirts and men only wear slacks.
Under this heading would fall our belief in entire sanctification. While a full treatment of the doctrine is beyond the scope of this post, a summary would be beneficial. In essence, when an individual comes to Christ, he or she is sanctified. Sanctification at this point is called Initial Sanctification. As a person grows in Christ and Christ continues to sanctify him or her, he or she reaches a point where he or she surrenders his or her entire self to Christ, wishing no longer to live for self, but only for God. This individual has reached the point of entire sanctification. This does not mean that this individual will never sin again. This is a misunderstanding of the doctrine of entire sanctification. For a deeper understanding of the doctrine of entire sanctification, I would recommend looking here.
So how do we live out this core value? I would suggest that Number 2 in the section above is a good place to start in applying this core value. Christ, being perfectly holy, is our model for holy living. We should also examine ourselves regularly to see if there is anything in us that we have not yielded to God.
The third core value of the Church of the Nazarene is that we are a missional people. The Church of the Nazarene is one of the largest missionary-sending denominations in the world. Currently, the Church of the Nazarene is in 162 world areas. The Church of the Nazarene is truly having a worldwide impact. However, being a missional denomination means more than just sending missionaries.
There are two aspects to being a missional church. First, a missional church is a "sending" church. In this context, we are speaking primarily about the church sending personnel and resources to support its overall mission to make Christlike disciples among the nations. This may mean sending a missionary overseas, or sending a leader from your church to serve as a pastor for a church without one. These activities are typical of a sending church.
Second, a missional church must be a "sent" church. The church must understand that every member of the congregation was sent with a Great Commission to make disciples. A sent church is one in which every member of the congregation takes this commission seriously and seeks to make disciples wherever God has placed them.
The Church of the Nazarene is a missional church. In addition to being mission-minded, the Church of the Nazarene is both a sent church and a sending church.
How can we, as individuals, apply this core value? Let me make two points:
1.) We should support the missionaries that we send, as well as those who feel a calling to the mission field.
2.) We should take every opportunity to spread the Gospel and make disciples here at home.
In doing these two things, I believe we can apply this third core value to our lives.