Remember all those times you tried to change? Those New Year's resolutions that get broken each year? How about all those times you failed to live up to your own expectations? Most of us have trouble living up to who we want to be, much less to who God wants us to be.
That's why the doctrine of adoption is so encouraging. Listen to Paul's description found in Galatians:
4 But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, 5 so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. 6 Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God. (Galatians 4:4-7)
All of us at one time were slaves to our own sinful desires and failures. But now God calls us His children (John 1:12, 1 John 3:1). He has rescued and redeemed us apart from any good behavior or anything we might do. He not only bought us our freedom (redemption), but He brings us into His family and gives us all the privileges of a son. J.I. Packer says it is "the highest privilege that the gospel offers."
God redeems all of our images of what a Father should be. He's even a Father to the fatherless (Psalm 68:5). He loves us unconditionally. He knows what we need most before we ask Him. Even His discipline is perfect.
In His grace, our Father has also provided us a family - brothers and sisters in Christ - so that we may know Him better. We encourage, serve, and pray for one another. Our love for one another is the primary way we show the world who God is and the power of His gospel to save us. If we don't love one another, the Bible says that we don't really know or love God (1 John 4:7-21).
Our desire is that Arise Church would truly be this sort of family. We plan to gather weekly as an extended family at our Sunday Gatherings to celebrate and worship God as our Father. We will get together weekly in DNA Groups to disciple one another, nurture and encourage one another, and hold each other accountable because that's what a loving family does. And it's as a family that we seek to declare and demonstrate the gospel to each other and to our neighbors in our Missional Communities.
Church life is family life. We offer a place to belong, to both believers and non-believers.