Our Identity and Vision
In biblical times the proclamation of the Sh’ma—Deuteronomy 6:4-5 which called Israel to hear and obey the one true God with their heart, soul, and strength—signified a person’s acceptance of God’s rule in their life. When Jesus was asked “what is the greatest commandment in the Law,” he affirmed the words of the Sh’ma—“you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. And he added, the second greatest commandment is to “love your neighbor as yourself (Mk 12:28-31).”
The life and teachings of Jesus were rooted in the Sh’ma and his recognition of God’s Kingdom actively breaking forth into the lives of those willing to receive it. Today, as in the times of Jesus, we at Narkis Street Congregation are committed to engaging in and submitting to God’s reign in every aspect of our community—in our heart, soul, mind and strength.
Heart: Our relationship with God
Our relationship with God is summed up in the prayer that Jesus taught us to pray in Matthew 6:9-13. We learn from this prayer that a dynamic relationship with God and being part of His Kingdom is based on love, reverence, gratitude, repentance, forgiveness, humility, and obedience. Through the redemptive death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon His followers, our relationship with God is direct and assured. Jesus’ victory over death empowers us to overcome sin, share in his sufferings exemplified by the cross, and to live with an undying hope in this world and in the world to come.
Our relationship with God grows by being sensitive to the Holy Spirit. We seek communion with God through prayer and worship both individually and corporately. God is enthroned among the praises of His people, and He answers those who call upon Him. If our relationship with God is damaged or impaired because of sin, our congregational life will suffer. Therefore, we endeavor to build a community with listening ears, penitent hearts, and faithful actions.
Soul: Our relationship with each other
Our relationship with each other reflects our love for God. Regardless of one’s status, we esteem every person as precious because they have been created in God’s image. We welcome all to “taste and see that the Lord is good.”
Our congregation is a “House of Prayer for all Nations,” and includes followers of Jesus from multiple nations, languages, and denominations. We celebrate communion with all who call Jesus Lord. We strive for unity among all believers, while celebrating our diversity in the Spirit’s freedom. We seek to build a community centered on Jesus, by serving, encouraging, sharing, and spurring on to love and good works.
Mind: Our relationship with God's word
Our relationship with God’s written Word, the Bible, is the foundation on which the Holy Spirit directs our lives. Our congregation is a haven for those who seek truth, asking sincere questions of the text and their faith. We believe that living in the Spirit and serious academic study of the Bible can complement one another. Therefore, faith-based, critical scholarship is valued in our congregation. By careful study of the whole Word of God, we seek spiritual maturity and the equipping of the believer to do the work of the Kingdom. Most of all, we believe our learning should lead us to follow Jesus in doing righteous deeds.
We feel called to remind other Christians throughout the world of the spiritual value of understanding Jesus’ teaching in its first-century Jewish context. We believe the ancient languages, comparative literature, and biblical land, enhance our understanding of Scripture. Our Bible study emphasizes how Jesus and his early followers interpreted and applied the Hebrew Scriptures.
Strength: Our relationship with the world
Our relationship with the world is motivated by Jesus’ final words, “Go and make disciples of all the nations.” We long to bring God’s message of hope and healing to all who are willing to receive it. We share the good news of Jesus with every person without prejudice, in hopes that everyone will embrace God’s ever-present grace and redemption. We believe the greatest sign of God’s Kingdom is the repentant and changed heart. We are commanded to be God’s witnesses, not just in words, but especially through deeds inspired by the Spirit. We cannot authentically share the good news of Jesus if our lives are the “bad news”. Our witness to the world is evident in our attitude, lifestyle, and love.
We feel called to reach out to the disenfranchised—the widow, the orphan, the stranger, the poor, the sick, and the prisoner. We desire to touch, hold, and heal the hurting world with Jesus’ good news of the Kingdom of Heaven and the power of the Holy Spirit to transform and restore lives. Just as Jesus walked the earth praying for the sick and freeing the demon-possessed, so too, we believe that God continues to move through miracles and healings.
We recognize God’s redemptive work throughout history in the election of Israel for the benefit of all the peoples of this land and the nations of the world. Living in Jerusalem in the 21st century, we seek reconciliation among Jews, Arabs, and all who reside in this land. As followers of Jesus, we are commanded to be peacemakers believing that God’s love is extended to all.
When Narkis Street Congregation recites the Sh’ma during our Saturday/Shabbat morning service, we remind ourselves of our commitment to the Lord and acceptance of His Kingdom rule over our lives. As Jesus, who was a faithful Jew, would have proclaimed this pledge of obedience to the Father, so we too, desire to serve the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. We envision our community in love with God, caring for each other, maturing as disciples, and sharing the message of Jesus with the world.