Developing a 2020 Vision for the Church:
Human Nature

by Dr. Bob Young
Thanksgiving 2017

Note: On the first Sunday of January 2000, I presented in a combined adult Bible class a list of items to be thoughtfully addressed if the church were to be a viable voice in the new millennium. I was asked to expand the list from that Bible class presentation into a series of bulletin articles. Those articles are still available on this website: Foundations Series.
Almost 20 years later, it is definitely time for a rewrite. The question is still valid: how can the church be a viable voice in the contemporary world? What questions must we address? What understandings are essential for Christianity to survive and thrive in the world we know today? This new series is again being written as articles, but it is expected that the articles will also be useful as outlines for sermon series or seminar presentations.
In this new series, I write to set forth a 20/20 vision, so that we might see more clearly, and to set a goal to be accomplished by the year 2020. The next two years will fly by quickly. Will the church learn anything from what it has experienced? Can the apparent decline in Christianity be reversed? Will the church find renewed strength and resolve to present God's truth with boldness, daring, and sensitivity so that a new generations of Christians learn to live in the world without becoming worldly, to understand the call to unity and diversity, to renew the mission so the primary message is always one of eternal hope? Now is the time to begin working toward the reality God desires for his people.

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| Introduction | #1: Truth | #2: Bible Inspiration | #3: Bible Interpretation | #4: Church | #5: Unity | #6: Worldliness | #7: Christian Experience | #8: Mission | #9: Hope | #10: Human Nature | #11: Christian Living |

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Having address three concerns in the general area of Bible knowledge (nature of Scripture, biblical inspiration, and biblical interpretation), three matters in the church's self-understanding (the nature of the church, the nature of unity, and the relationship of the church to the world), and three matters in the arena of Christian practice (Christian experience, Christian mission, and the Christian hope), we come finally to questions of biblical application--the human nature and the challenge of Christian living that reflects our shared experience as God's creation.

What is the nature of the human being? How can it be that we are both image of God (divine nature) and living beings (human nature)? What do these two affirmations say about us? And in a related concern, what is the nature of the fellowship that we share with other Christians? While these and similar questions may technically belong under the general heading of "church", and some would say that I should have included them and addressed them above, I have separated them in this series for two reasons. First, they provide a very fitting conclusion to the series as we ask about the overall implications of these studies. Second, they are matters which each of us must address individually. Certainly one aspect of the integrated divine-human nature is that we as human beings created in God's image have the ability to think and reason, that we can reason abstractly about things that do not exist. This capacity must help define our responsibility.
Certainly the church corporately desires involvement and understanding of its nature and character, unity, worship, human identity, missions, and the hope all share. On another level, however, each Christian must ask and answer these questions for self. All of us must ask how we are involved in the lives of others, how we become the presence of Jesus for others, how we are his hands and feet.

The answers given to these three individual questions may be the greatest challenge faced the church. If for each individual Christian the faith and practice of the incarnation of Christ are not to be based in knowledge, where is the guidance to help us understand how we should live? We must continually reevaluate our thinking--what we think and how that thinking grows out of our knowledge of Christ and his word (which knowledge must rest firmly on accurate understanding). How we think, what we think about, our priorities, our will, our decisions are vital. The church must rethink and restudy the thought processes which characterize us and ask anew about the nature of Christian thought. We must understand the nature of the Christian mind (often in the New Testament called the heart), while not limiting the place of relationships based on emotion, desire, will, and choices.


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Last updated November 23, 2017