One of the premier values of people in our postmodern culture is authenticity. It’s also a premier biblical value. Only our “real” selves come in contact with the living God. So we encourage people to be honest about who we really are – our real hopes, fears, and struggles as we encounter God.
It has been said that God made man in his own image and man returned the favor. At Hope, we want to bring our real selves into contact with the real Jesus – the Jesus that we find in the Scriptures, not our own versions of Him. In particular, we want to deconstruct ways that our culture has falsely westernized and southernized the biblical Jesus.
The surprising message of the Bible is that each of us is a royal mess. Because of the deceitfulness of sin we have all used the harm others have done to us to justify lives of fierce independence from God and self-protection. Just like the Bible, we expect people to be real sinners. But we also expect an encounter with the real Jesus and the gospel of grace to give people real hope and produce real transformation in their lives. Whether you’re an addict, an abuser, trapped in self-pity, or just plain hard to live with Jesus can change you. At the cross, Jesus takes our well-established sin patterns on himself, pays for them with his blood, and gives us his perfect love. When we surrender our hearts and lives to him we are set free to love in ways we never dreamed possible. No heart is too hard for the melting power of the crucified Son of God.