We live in a society where people are confused about the identity and vision of the church. There are many churches out there and those many churches are seeking to do many different things and are teaching many different things. There are some who come with good intentions and seeking the welfare of the community while some if we look a bit closer their intentions are not so good. We thought it would be good for us opportunity to share with you who we are as Christ Central Soweto and what is our vision for Soweto.
The vision of Christ Central Soweto is not something we came up with now, this is a vision that has been there for many years as some of our brothers prayed and waited for many years for the right opportunity for us to start a church. The idea of a church in Soweto also did not come from people outside of Soweto, people who don’t know the location but it comes from people here. People who were born here, some moved into Soweto, some even if they live outside of Soweto still love Soweto and saw a need for a church like ours in Soweto. Our vision is for Soweto, which is why the church is called Christ Central Soweto because our business is with Soweto and this is the place we feel God is calling us to.
So what is our vision? Our mandate as Christ Central Soweto comes from the bible and we are going to look at 1 Timothy 1:12-17 to explain this.
Who are we? Grateful sinners who were shown mercy (vs. 12-14)
Paul the writer of this letter begins in vs. 12 with thanking the Lord Jesus Christ because he has given him something that is amazing to Paul. Paul has been given a mandate, a task that he is to do. Jesus did not stop at just giving Paul a task but he gave him the power to do this task but also, more importantly to Paul, Jesus considered him faithful. Now why is it important to Paul that he is considered faithful?
Today when it comes to getting work we don’t celebrate that people see us as faithful, we are told to go there confident and proud of our abilities. Even if you don’t know the work they say as young people you must fake it till you make it but this is not what Paul does. Paul knows that this work that he has been given is beyond him and he doesn’t have it because he was a good person but because Jesus Christ did something for him.
This is very important for us to understand and we need to challenge this idea that Christianity is for good people. I often hear people say to me that “I can’t be Christian now, I first have to get my life in order first, get married, stop drinking, stop smoking. After those things then I will become a Christian. It didn’t happen like that for Paul and didn’t happen like that for us.
When Jesus found Paul he was a blasphemer. To blaspheme is to not respect God and to treat him like he is nothing… that was Paul. Okay all of us are disrespectful now and then, so maybe you are thinking that’s not too bad but Paul went further and he persecuted God’s people. When Paul initially heard about Jesus Christ he was so angry that looked for Christians and he killed them, in fact he was so good at this that he was sent by the Jews to arrest Christians. He was like the Eugene de Kock to the Christians in the first century and Christians feared him. It was in that state that Jesus found him.
We also were not good people when Jesus found us. In our hearts we also did not want Jesus, we showed it in many different ways. Some took drugs while others were rude to their parents. Some of us slept around with girls and some were thieves. Some of us were very good at pretending so when people looked at us they saw good people but we knew we were evil. When somebody came to speak to us about Jesus our hearts would become hard because we did not want Jesus.
But Jesus responded to us in a way we did not expect. In your home if a child is disrespectful he gets a hiding, if someone does something wrong in the community we expect that they will get disciplined. Yet Jesus responded differently, instead of judging us he showed us mercy. And it wasn’t just a little mercy here and there. No, he showed us mercy till it overflowed. That mercy did not just come alone but it came with faith and love. Let me give you an example: it’s like if there is a small child, a boy who keeps jumping into your garden and steals your plants and fruits and runs away leaving a mess. One day you catch him, what do you do with him? If you were that little boy and Jesus caught you, showing you mercy is not hitting you but giving you a warning. Overflowing grace is Jesus inviting you in, cooking for you supper, giving you new clothes, and giving you access to his garden the next time you want fruit.
For Paul, the Eugene de Kock of the Christians, who was killing Christians and hating Jesus. Jesus took him and he forgave him his sins. Then Jesus took the most precious thing he had, His people, and said to Paul I want you to go and preach the gospel that grace to them, he entrusted the message of salvation to a man who once lived to stop it from spreading. This is what overflowing grace is, this is what we experienced and this is what Christ gave us to give to Soweto, the Grace of God.
What do we aim to do? We have a story to tell (vs. 15-16)
The apostle Paul puts it nicely in vs. 15:
15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.
This saying says Paul is so important because it is trustworthy and those who hear it must accept it fully. The main reason why Jesus came into this world was to save sinners. When he looked down on this world and saw all that was happening Jesus didn’t say leave them to destroy each other and die. When he saw that because of our actions the wrath and anger of God is going to destroy us he didn’t say they deserve it but he came down, he lived among us, he showed himself to be God who wants to save and he died for us so that we are saved.
And lastly to show how powerful he is to save us, he saved the worst sinner to demonstrate that he has power to save all sinners. He went into the world and found the person that everyone said: even though God is powerful Paul is beyond saving, he is so evil and lost- even the Holy Spirit can’t do anything for him. Jesus went and saved him so that we know that he is willing and able to save sinners.
As God saved Paul he also saved us when we were sinners, we had no desire or ability to save ourselves but when the gospel came out and Holy Spirit touched our hearts we couldn’t resist it. And so now we have a heart to see the world saved from their sins. We know from the Word of God that those without Christ are on a collision course with the wrath of God because they have rejected their true king. The only way to be saved is for them to run to their true king, the Lord Jesus Christ for he came into the world to save them. For many of us it was not enough for us to stay at our current churches, the gospel needs to keep going out and spreading. And nothing makes the gospel spread like a new church because alot of the time people in old churches don’t concern themselves much with telling the gospel to outsiders, they are more concerned about things in the church. Some even fight among themselves and get old in the church. Some churches have lost the true message from the bible and preach about themselves and their own ideas, not the Word of God. But in a new church there is an energy and a passion to see the lost saved.
That’s why we want to be a church planting church. We want to see 29 churches planted in 29 locations here in Soweto. We want to see Christ at the centre of life here in Soweto. We want to see a new gospel centred church in Diepkloof, Orlando, Protea, Dobsonville, Meadowlands,…all the townships of Soweto. Why? Because we are passionate about seeing the lost saved.
As Christ Central Soweto we believe in working together with other churches because we don’t want to build our own kingdom but we want to see God’s kingdom grow. We ourselves come from a church in Auckland Park called Hope church, whose aim is to know Jesus Christ and make him known. We are part of a denomination called REACHSA which holds to the belief that God’s Word is above all things. What we get from these two entities is a passion for the lost and a passion for the gospel. They will hold us accountable to seeing Soweto transformed by the gospel. The gospel is the message that Christ came into the world to save sinners and we as a church plant of Hope church and a part of REACHSA want to make the gospel known.
Why do we do this: For the glory of God (vs. 17)
And all this we do, not so that we can be famous and be well known. I am happy if no one remembers my name, if I die and people forget about him but people must not forget Jesus Christ. He is the one that we do this for. He is the one who has saved us when we were sinners deserving death. He saved us and deployed us to go make him famous in all the world.
When Paul looked at the grace of God and what God had done for him and for us all, he couldn’t help himself but to praise God. And our ultimate aim is the glory of God
Like Paul this message of the gospel fills us with praise, it is so good that we can’t keep it to ourselves. God not only saves us from sin, he gives us eternal life. Life that will never perish, fade, or be taken away. He is incredibly patient with us and doesn’t treat us like we deserve but he shows us mercy. He is the only one who deserves to be worshipped, he is the only God, eternal, immortal. Yet this king chooses us, no body’s, sinners, and he wants to save us and give you eternal life.
That is our vision, we want to see 1% of Sowetans (13000 people) reached with the gospel, planting of 29 churches in the 29 townships of Soweto. We want to plant a Church and later churches that entrenched in the community and engaged with society because they have a heart to see Soweto transformed by the gospel. A church where truth of God’s word is valued more than money, where your soul can be fed nourishment of the gospel of Christ week in and week out without worry. A church where the truths that we learn are not just good catch phrases that have no impact on how we live our lives but where these truths are nurtured to take root in our hearts and transform our lives and outlook on life.
A church where we love one another deeply because we first were greatly loved by God, and as such we truly invest in one another’s lives as communities of the gospel. We want to be a church that is more concerned about others more than we are concerned about ourselves, because we know that this is what God did for us. When we were lost in sin he came down into this world and he became one of us, giving up everything so that we can be saved. And so we do the same for the communities of Soweto, we want to engage them, to love them, to share our lives and possessions with them but more importantly to share the gospel with them.
As we become this church we want to multiply and build more communities like this all over Soweto, reaching out to 1% of this great township by planting 29 churches. We would love if you can join us and be a part of this community.