LOVE FiercelyWe love because he first loved us.
At Saint City, as a community we make the choice to love irrationally daily. We do not hand out love on a merit system, rather, we follow the example of Christ in sacrificing ourselves for the love of others. We are well aware of how undeserving we are of God’s love. It is this awareness of how dark our own sin is that gives life to each one of our stories.
It is in our own stories, our testimonies, we fuel the love we pass on to others who have not yet found the love of Christ for themselves. As a church, we are committed to love fiercely, regardless of what step of their faith journey a person is on, whether they have yet met Jesus, whether they look like us, whether they live like us, or whether or not they sin in the same way as we do. This fierce love that Jesus modeled for us is central to our vision as a church, and vital to our lives as individuals.
In the Bible, the book of Colossians gives us instruction on living intentionally. Chapter 3 instructs us to ‘put to death therefore what is earthly in you….you must put them all away, anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth…Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.’ The words Paul wrote in this letter 2,000 years ago are strikingly relevant to us today. By far the biggest complaint people have about ‘Christians’ is perceived hypocrisy.
At Saint City Church, we will be the first to admit we are far from perfect. We make mistakes as often as anyone else. However, despite our weaknesses, we push to live as intentionally as possible through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit in us. We strive to be a people that abandon ‘anger, wrath, malice, and slander’, and adopt ‘holiness, love, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience’. We endeavor to be a people that live authentic, intentional lives; lives that look the same on Sunday morning as they do Tuesday afternoon and Friday night. We know that we all fall short, but the knowledge of our weaknesses won’t keep us from trying daily to live intentionally. It is not perfection, but progress we walk towards everyday in the pursuit of Jesus in our lives.
At Saint City Church, we want you to know that there is more. Finding forgiveness and freedom in Jesus is the most important step of any person’s life…ever. However, often times as Christians, we adopt the lie that after salvation there is nothing left for us but a life of rule following and pew sitting. This could not be further from the truth! The truth is, that deciding to follow Jesus is just the beginning! When you enter into a relationship with Jesus, you come into relationship with the Holy Spirit as well, that is, the spirit or soul of God. The soul or spirit of God walks with you everyday you are in relationship with Jesus. It is the spirit of God, or ‘Holy Spirit’ that pulls us to mature and GROW spiritually.
In the book of 1 Corinthians in the Bible, chapter 3 verse 11 reads, ‘When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.’ The book of Hebrews in the Bible, chapter 6 verse 1 reads, ‘therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity…’ These verses explicitly explain to us that there is more available to us than just an initial relationship with Jesus. God wants us to grow through study, relationships, prayer, worship, and being a part of a community of believers. At Saint City, we aim to facilitate the growth of our congregants through small group relationships, Bible reading, individual and corporate prayer, teachings, studies, and accountability. God did not intend for us to ever plateau in our spiritual growth. As we each grow in maturity, we are able to be used in bigger capacities for God. No matter what stage you are in your spiritual journey, there is room for growth. Healthy things grow!
Saint City Church is a collection of people with a heart to serve with purpose. Serving with purpose is a root of the DNA of Saint City, and it flows out through servant leadership. In the culture of Saint City, purpose is realized through service. In the Bible, the book of Matthew in chapter 20 verse 28 states, ‘even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many’. Following the example of Jesus, Saint City strives to be a movement of people serving in their purpose.
As Jesus’ purpose was to give His life on the cross for our sins, our purpose is to point to Jesus in everything we do. We believe that each one of us was made by God divinely on purpose and for a purpose. In the Bible, the book of Jeremiah reads in Chapter 1 verse 5, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.’ It is no accident that you are here. It was a part of God’s specific plan for you to be used! At Saint City, we want to empower people to discover their purpose, and be utilized in making a difference through serving in that purpose within their lives and the church.
At Saint City we firmly believe that as people, we were created for worship. Whether you realize it or not, you are living a life of worship. The object of that worship, however, makes all the difference in our lives. Often times, people assume worship is music that is played on a Christian radio station, or the songs that are sung before the sermon at church on Sunday morning.
However, worship is far more than songs and melodies; worship is a style of how you live. The object of our worship can usually be pinpointed by tracking where the focus of our time, energy, and resources lie. Is our focus on social media? Are we totally consumed with our work life? Do we obsess on our families in an unhealthy manner? Are our minds constantly occupied with others’ opinions of us? Do we fester daily in comparison? Are we fixated on receiving affirmation through relationships?
All these things that devour our time, energy, and resources are what we worship. At Saint City, we have experienced freedom from these drains on our time, energy, and resources by refocusing our worship back on our creator and savior, Jesus Christ. Passionate worship is really just another way of saying, living a life focused on God’s goodness. The book of Psalms in the Bible reads in Chapter 9 verses 1 and 2,
‘I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart….I will be glad and exult you, I will sing praise to your name, O most high.’
Living a life of worship is not a chore or a task, it is a lifestyle only possible through the transformation of our heart by the Spirit of God. Out of this heart change is where our connection to God through singing and songs comes. We are simply singing what we have been living when we have a lifestyle of passionate worship. Psalms goes on to say in Chapter 89 verse 1, ‘I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord forever, with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations.’ Our faith is activated through proclamation. In the Bible, 2 Chronicles Chapter 20 outlines a story of a man named Jehosophat who prayed to God for help. He was under attack from 3 different groups of people trying to invade and take the land that belonged to Israel. God answered when they worshipped. Verses 18-23 tell us that before the battle, the Israelites ‘fell down before the Lord, worshipping the Lord’, and ‘stood up to praise the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice.’ People were appointed to go before the army and ‘sing to the Lord and praise him’. ‘And when they began to sing and praise’ God saved them and defeated all three groups by pitting their enemies against each other in battle. At Saint City Church, we believe the same God that saved his people in this story from the Bible is the very God that we worship, and that can save us from all of our circumstances. We choose to live a life full of passionate worship for Jesus who saves us.
The culture that we live in today perpetuates a deep lie about truth. The lie is that you can either deliver truth, or, you can deliver love. In an effort to accept and show tolerance, love often wins when the choice between the two is presented. At Saint City Church, we believe the answer is really ‘both and’ rather than ‘either or’. God designed truth and love to go hand in hand. It was never intended for it to be a choice between the two, because they were designed to exist within each other and support each other as attributes.
At Saint City, we stand firm in the Biblical principles explained by Jesus himself that you in fact cannot separate truth from love. In the Bible, the book of John describes a conversation Jesus had with his disciple Peter in Chapter 21 verses 9 through 19. Jesus asked Peter three different times if he loved Jesus. Peter answered each time,
‘Yes, Lord, you know I love you.’ Jesus replied the same after each answer, ‘if you love me, feed my sheep’.
Jesus wasn’t talking about pets or animals and actual food. Jesus was talking symbolically to Peter. Those sheep are all of us as spiritual beings. The food that we are supposed to eat is the truth found in scripture. Jesus is telling Peter, and all of us, that if we love God, we must give God’s people spiritual truth and teaching! Love and truth are dependent on each other. If you love, you will feed truth. If you give Biblical truth, you will do it out of love. At Saint City Church, we stand on the Biblical truths outlined in the Bible, but we promise to always deliver all truth in a spirit of love, not condemnation, just as Jesus commanded us.
Saint City Church is housed within the hearts of the people. The people are the church, not a building. Having said that, the people that make up Saint City Church gather in the context of St. Louis metro east. Saint Louis has become known in recent years as a hub for racial and political division. National headlines have focused on the hurt and division that has manifested in riots, shootings, unrest, and violence in St. Louis. At Saint City Church, we see the division in our region in all of these arenas as being in stark contrast to the example of Heaven God has laid out for us in the Bible. John, a disciple of Christ, wrote an entire book on visions God gave him called Revelation. In the Bible, the book of Revelation describes what God showed John heaven looks like in Chapter 7, verse 9. It reads,
‘…I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb…’
God showed John that Heaven is a beautiful mix of every type of person God created, worshipping together. At Saint City Church, we strive to unite our city through this same example. We believe an example of heaven on earth is people from all different cultural, racial, and ethnic backgrounds worshipping God together. If there is any hope of reconciliation and unity in our city, it will first be found through uniting spiritually. At Saint City Church, we strive to have a culture in which heaven is represented. We long to be a healing place of reconciliation and unite where we can be educated on how to love and unify through community, relationships, and corporate worship.
God is a God of ‘more than enough’. Through out scripture, you will never find an example, story, or circumstance in which God came up short. We believe that it is our responsibility, as a church, and as believers, to model this same generosity to the world in the way we live our lives. If we are to represent Jesus, we are called to live as He did, which is irrationally generous. Many times, people hear the words giving and generosity and immediately assume they are financial topics. While God does command us to be generous through financial giving, we reduce and diminish the nature of generosity when we relocate it to a financial context. In the Bible, Jesus explains generosity in the book of Luke, Chapter 6 starting in verse 37.
Do you notice how Jesus speaks of forgiveness before he alludes to money? Jesus is more concerned with the generosity of our hearts, because when we get our hearts right, generosity flows out of all the parts of our life. In the Bible, the book of Proverbs is a collection of some of the deepest wisdom God revealed to man. In chapter 11, verses 24 and 25 it reads,
‘Forgive and you will be forgiven, give and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap.’
‘One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.'
This wisdom applies to ALL the resources we have to give, not just our financial resources. If we give our forgiveness, grace, love, relationship, community, time, energy, and attention freely, we will receive all those back to us in a measure greater than what we gave. It is impossible to out give God, and he rewards us when we are selfless, faithful, and irrationally generous.
The world tells us to hold on to what we have and save all of our time, energy, and self-investment for our own benefit. However, the Bible warns us in Proverbs that a person who ‘withholds what he should give…only suffers want.’ It doesn’t make sense in the context of ‘logic’ because God is bigger than logic. At Saint City Church, we strive to be a people that is known for our irrational generosity to the community, the church, each other, and our God.