The following diagram was shared during our NT Overview series to describe the importance of the culture of a community and how it lives out its mission. It simply seeks to show the interrelated nature of a community’s culture (and individual character) and its actual flowing out in its mission.
Our identity as believers and as Christ’s church is foundational. He is our definition and we live our lives in him through the gospel. Who we are has been changed by the gospel both individually and collectively (see Ephesians 1-2) and it is from our union with Jesus that we live out our missional calling together. We are a gospel centered people following Jesus on his mission in the world.
Our actions as believers and as Christ’s church are then transformational in that we are shaped by our daily practices. Whereas our identity is in Christ through the gospel, our choices, decisions and actions need to be shaped by the gospel as well. As we live this out, following Jesus, God’s Spirit bears fruit in us (see all of Galatians 5). This is both active—we work at it. What we do, what we do together, really matters. It is also passive, in that God is doing work in us, on us and through us (see Philippians 2:12, 13). If we do not live out our mission, choose to sow sin in our lives, go AWOL from Jesus’ purposes, it will effect us. We will look less like Jesus, more like the world and be unfruitful and ineffective in gospel work (see 2 Peter 1:3-11) To be a part of a gospel centered, missional community means we shape and share a culture based upon our calling in the world. When we do so our life together takes on a different reality and this in turn has a profound effect on our lives.
In Summary the WHO we are together should determine the WHAT we live together. Then the WHAT we live together continues to shape and transform the WHO we are. We should never deceive ourselves to think that the crew we flow with in life does not matter. In fact, it is indispensible to life and mission. And this, as you can see if you step back and look at the graphic above, creates a smile…at least this what my daughter saw here.