Just this week White Oak held our first ever Huddle Group celebration. We celebrated that fact that more than 40 people spent the past 30 weeks meeting together in small discipleship groups. During that time, these men and women read through the entire New Testament, assessed our hearts according to White Oak’s vision (discovering our identity in Jesus, being equipped to love, and deployed on mission), we considered how our lives aligned with White Oak’s core theological beliefs, and we’ve been trained as disciple-makers. It was an intense nine months! It was also one of the more rewarding experiences I’ve had the privilege to take part in.
It's difficult to pinpoint what exactly was so impactful for me. It was certainly the friendships I built with the four other guys in my group. I know it was the discipline of reading through Scripture every day. It was amazing how God showed me themes, convicted my heart, and drew me to worship aspects of his character. Each day we were challenged to ask ourselves: What is God asking me to do with what I’ve read? I found myself reading Scripture through a new lens. What was I to do? Where does my heart need re-alignment? I was impacted by the time I spent in prayer (both in solitude and in walking through my neighborhood).
I know I was impacted by the constant challenge to share what I was learning with someone else. I discovered a boldness to seek out people in my life and share with them about my faith journey, what God had been teaching me, and invite them to experience God and his Word, too. (I know, you’re probably thinking that pastors should already be good at this. Surprise. I have a long way to go)!
I guess I can’t pinpoint one thing that really shook me up in this nine-month journey because God was working on me and revealing himself from so many different angles. It occurs to me that the Bible promises that we can know God with the same level of reality and immediacy that we can know any other person or thing that comes across our experience. The same words that are used to express our experience of God are used to express our knowledge of physical things.
Taste and see that the Lord is good. -Psalm 34:8
All your robes are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia; from palaces adorned with ivory the music of the strings makes you glad. -Psalm 45:8
3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. -John 10:3
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. -Matthew 5:8
Taste, smell, hear, and see. The same faculties we’ve been given to experience the physical world, God has given to us to experience the spiritual world, as well. That is, if we are in tune with the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives urging us to use them. God is real. Everything else gets its reality from God’s very existence. Though Thomas famously asks to touch and see Jesus’s physical body as evidence of his resurrection, Jesus says that even more blessed will be those who experience him through faith. That isn’t to say that Jesus discounts our faculties in experiencing him. Just the opposite! He promises the Holy Spirit to us and through him our senses are heightened and alert to seek after God and to know him intimately. We can know and experience Jesus with more proof, certainty, and reality than Thomas ever did. Think about that.
At the root of the Christian life is the belief in the invisible. The unseen reality is the object of our faith. If we want to truly know God and experience his power at work in our lives, we must focus our attention on the spiritual reality (which is as real as the physical one).
7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. -Matthew 7:7-8
God isn’t someone to simply believe in. He is someone to be experienced and known. This summer, I encourage you to seek him. Seek him in his Word, through worship, in prayer, and in community with other believers. Seek, through trust and obedience, the work that the Holy Spirit wants to do in and through you.
Seeking with you,
Lead Pastor, White Oak Christian Church