First About Jesus

We are not first about Justice: we are first about Jesus. And lives lived in obedience to Jesus, in love for each other, lead to and look like Justice.” The Warehouse Team [1]

Over the last 20 years, as we have journeyed with local churches in how best to express the Good News of Jesus to those in their neighbourhoods, we have refined our understanding of what it takes for the church to be  “full of life and love, working for the good of the community in which God has placed it”[2]. While the local church continues to be the focal point of our actions, we have learned that there is a lot of work to be done around how we think of God and how we make meaning of the incarnation. How do we continue to be formed in the footsteps and likeness of the God who “put on flesh and moved into the neighbourhood”[3]? In what ways do our lives reflect the One who chose to be born into a despised race, in an occupied territory and live in solidarity with those who had been most marginalised by systems of economic, political, social, military and religious power? How do we align our ways to the One who disrupted these systems of power in such obedience to the Missio Dei that the powers-that-be could see a violent, public, humiliating death as the only thing which could stop Him? How do the big and small decisions in our specific contexts come into increasing alignment with this restoring, redeeming, self-sacrificing, self-emptying, incarnational, compassionate, other-centred Love which topples empires, economies and cultures through its transformation of all things? How are we connecting our faith to our contexts and our actions in such a way as to be equally known by our love and our belovedness?  

All of this – how people have been formed to view God and themselves and the world in relationship to God – and the places, practices and processes by which we are shaped into deeper understanding of this, is what we call theological formation. Over the last 20 years we have noticed that this plays an integral role in whether a local church’s professed faith leads to lives and actions which look like the Peace and Justice of God for the world. Hence, the continuous challenge for us has been finding ways of presenting the wonder of this glorious Gospel in ways that more people can accept and understand – developing new methods of theological formation that speak more faithfully to the context in which we find ourselves. 

In our work and in this newsletter, you will experience our passion for how we engage Scripture together, how we nurture critical consciousness of the powers which shape our contexts, how we discern the presence and activity of God in these contexts together and how we align to this activity: in responding to disasters, in equipping churches to deal with continuous trauma, in helping congregations study the Bible and its gift to their specific context, in advocating for more just systems and structures, in standing in solidarity with those who continuously bear the brunt of injustices and in equipping young leaders for a rapidly changing church in a rapidly changing context. All of this can look like we’re passionate about justice. We are! But make no mistake: we are first and always about Jesus.

[1] – This was a declaration made during a strategic planning exercise when the facilitator suggested that “Justice” was one of the Warehouse’s defining characteristics.
[2] – Bryant Myers, “Walking with the Poor”
[3] – John 1:14 (MSG)

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