My first pastoral call was to the First Presbyterian Church of Winnfield, a litt...
Our mission in ECO is to build flourishing churches that make disciples of Jesus Christ. Is that your heartbeat? When I look at our nine core values, I feel the pulse of a movement that seeks to glorify Christ, not a denomination that strives to preserve its own life or glory.
When we visit our doctors for a wellness check-up or a scheduled visit, they look at our vital signs. They do that not so much to see if we’re actually breathing (Lord, help us) but more so to spot any irregularities and to gauge how strong our pulse is. It might seem mundane, but it’s invaluable for the doctor to determine how strong and how consistent our hearts actually are, among other things.
The first heartbeat – our first core value – is “Jesus-shaped Identity.” The second one pulses right after it in joyful rhythm and with healthy force: “Biblical Integrity.”
Biblical Integrity says something about us. It means everything we think, say and do seeks to be in harmony with the consistent and steady testimony of the Bible in all of its parts. As followers of Jesus, ourintegrity is based on and measured by not our own authority, nor popular beliefs, but by the authority and trustworthiness of the scriptures as they bear witness to Christ in his fullness. In this movement called ECO, biblical integrity means finding our life together here, in the scriptures.
We believe that the scriptures are unlike any other words ever spoken or recorded. In them we find a faithful and consistent pathway to the heart of the Father who alone brings peace and freedom and transformation. There is no need to look for a higher authority or for more compelling evidence; there is no reason to seek out another doctor or another opinion for there is only one Doctor who seeks us out and brings us to wholeness.
When we speak of biblical integrity, we are not talking about being flawless people, but rather about being mature and complete people. This means that the accumulation of Bible facts, terms, and maps, etc., is not enough. We must not only know information, we must experience transformation that leads to wholeness in our personal lives and in our shared lives and ministries – in our homes, in our local churches, and in our neighborhoods and cities.
All this talk of biblical integrity should challenge how we view and use the scriptures. When I think of biblical integrity, I think of Jesus who came not to abolish the law but to fulfill it. He fulfilled it by creating space for the lost, the sick, and the outcast. The religious leaders of his day criticized him for doing so, and tried everything in their power to discredit him. In Matthew 22:29, for example, when some Sadducees sought to trick him with a riddle of their own making based on their lack of belief in the resurrection, Jesus responded to them like this:
“You are wrong, because you know
neither the scriptures nor the power of God…”
Ouch! Is that you? Biblical integrity means we know both the scriptures and the power of God. We’ll “know” both as we line up our lives (thinking, speech and action) more and more with the Bible as it shows us Christ.
In the end, it will not matter how much information we will know or how many miracles we will have accomplished for God; what will matter is what matters now . . . Did we put our trust in Jesus according to the steady witness of the scriptures, and were we shaped and known by him through our joyful obedience and consistent practice? My prayer is that our heartbeat will sound like Christ’s very own heart, beating in time with the scriptural witness and leading to a life that is only found in him – the center of our lives and the cornerstone of our faith. “Biblical Integrity” – our second heartbeat – helps us get there.