Jesus grew up in a town called Nazareth. The Bible contains a story in the Gospel According to John about two friends – one named Philip and the other Nathanael. Philip had already decided to follow Jesus and was trying to convince Nathanael to follow him as well. In making his case Philip said, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law and the Prophets: Jesus, Joseph’s son, from Nazareth.” Nathanael responded, “Can anything from Nazareth be good?” (John 1:45-46 CEB)
In that day, Nazareth was “on the wrong side of the tracks.” It was a place where the poor lived, the impoverished, diseased, outcasts – the not-good-enoughs. This is why Nathanael responded the way he did, because what he knew of Nazareth was that there wasn’t a lot of good there.
However, Jesus had a way of turning the tables on our expectations — even down to his humble hometown. Christ spent much of his ministry helping others see the “upside down” kingdom he claimed to be ushering in — a kingdom in which the first shall be last and the last shall be first, a kingdom where leaders must become the servants of all.
This is where we get our name – Nazarene. The Church of the Nazarene began in inner city Los Angeles in 1908, reaching out to the poor, impoverished, diseased, and outcasts – the not-good-enoughs. We took seriously and continue to take seriously what Jesus the Nazarene taught when he said, “I was hungry and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was naked and you gave me clothes to wear. I was sick and you took care of me. I was in prison and you visited me. Then those who are righteous will reply to him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you a drink? When did we see you as a stranger and welcome you, or naked and give you clothes to wear? When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ Then the king will reply to them, ‘I assure you that when you have done it for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you have done it for me.’” (Matthew 25:34-40 CEB)
Today, we are taking this call as seriously as ever. There is no one undeserving of the transforming love of Christ, and we believe the grace of God goes before us in our mission to share this love with the entire world. You should join us!