The fourth week of SLT was definitely challenging for me, but it was also one of the most encouraging weeks so far. It’s that week, almost halfway through the summer where you’re really starting to feel it. The pace can be grueling, and it is easier to grow discouraged and put less effort into the whole program, but if you push through, it can also be the time where you start to see some breakthroughs.
Pat Sokoll, one of the directors of the Mountains West Region who currently serves as a pastor in Loveland, CO, came and gave a two-night teaching about faith, unity, and genuine Biblical community. The first night, he talked about the importance of knowing the infinite Truth (God). The Bible is the truth about the Truth, and it contains all we need for life and godliness, but it does not begin to tell us everything there is to know about God.
We need to remember, first, that we are drawing close to a person, not a system. This requires faith. Pat explained that God’s agenda is to increase our faith, and because He loves us, He will do so. Faith is always hard or scary, or both. It involves the unknown and the difficult. God is training our faith through our life circumstances, and our faith grows as we learn to know God. Head knowledge of the Bible isn’t going to cut it, we have to come to God for who He is, and not who we want Him to be.
The second night, Pat shared that if we want to be disciples of Jesus who influence others, we can’t be trying to find middle ground between the flesh and the spirit. In other words, we shouldn’t be trying to strike a balance between God’s way and our way. We have to kill our flesh and submit to His agenda if we want to bring spiritual influence to our world. His agenda is for us to be like Him and to grow in faith.
Community is an essential, inescapable part of God’s will for us. He has literally made us to be in community. God is a “three-who-what,” or what is known as the Trinity: three persons, one thing. Much like a married couple: two persons, one “thing.” People are made in God’s image, and therefore we should be like Him. Community is part of who God is, and unity is indispensable to this relationship.
Another word used in the Bible to describe unity is “oneness.” Our relationships in the church should be “one” like God is one (John 17:22). Perfectly one is how Jesus describes it: always looking out for someone else’s interests and loving with genuine care and concern like we would for ourselves.
Beyond the teachings, however, is where this stuff starts to get lived out. In Small Group, we discuss, maybe even argue, what unity is supposed to look like. Thursday night dinners with families in the church are where connections are made and Christian hospitality is demonstrated. Friday night outreach is when we get to exercise faith as we go with God on a hunt for souls. The past two weeks we have gone to the area around the College World Series to strike up some God conversations and hopefully share the good news of Jesus Christ with those who have never heard. Each time, I and the people I was partnered with, had one good conversation where we got to share the entire Gospel with people who appeared to be really paying attention.
Faith and unity are what will help us to be people of influence, and breakthroughs are possible as we seek God (the Truth) and as we step out into the unknown.