The Rocky Mountain District gladly serves our gracious and loving God who “desires that all people be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4). Jesus commissioned His Church for this purpose when He said: “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19). In harmony with God’s desire and Jesus’ imperative, the Rocky Mountain District endeavors to “focus” individuals and congregations to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to all people. The following three phrases summarize the District Focus:
- Know the Truth
- Understand the Culture
- Live the Faith
What is truth?
We live in an age when people say that there is no absolute truth. Jesus, the night before His crucifixion, praying to His Father said, “Your Word is truth” (John 17:17). During His ministry, Jesus further stated, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32).
Our only access to the Kingdom comes through Jesus, the One who is “the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn. 14:6). The truths of God’s Word are continually and carefully proclaimed and taught in our churches, schools, early childhood centers, in formal and informal settings. We rejoice and celebrate God’s gift of salvation through Jesus Christ!
While we articulate the clear message of the gospel, people are not crowding into our sanctuaries to hear what we so appreciate and need. Why?
To begin to answer the question “why?” one needs to “understand the culture.”
The Western Church no longer occupies a primary place in the community. Community leaders and residents may not feel the church has anything to offer them. They may even consider the church to be out of touch with the current values of much of the population. Some may consider the Church to be a drain on society. At best, the Church might be considered a mere relic of the past.
As we observe culture changing at an increasingly rapid pace, we wonder where will it end. We recognize and lament the fact that the culture in our country has departed from Biblical views in any number of ways. It’s astounding that behaviors and lifestyles which were unacceptable a few decades ago, or even a few years ago, are now commonplace and accepted.
While we often think and speak of culture in ethical terms; there are other aspects of culture to consider. Depending on where we live, we might note cross-cultural changes in our neighborhood: those who have a different shade of skin color; ethnic background, or socio-economic group.
Our neighbors may consume foods unfamiliar to us, wear different types of clothing, enjoy forms of entertainment to which we are unaccustomed, may be inspired by a different genre of music, or align with a different political party.
Reflect for a moment on those who work with you in your occupation, participate alongside you in organizations, sit alongside you in the classroom, or live next door. Do they share your values? Do they have a different work ethic? What technology do they use?
Although our neighbors may not enter our church doors, we exit these doors on Sunday with our hearts filled with peace, joy, love, and hope. During the week, we converse with our neighbors, interact with our fellow co-workers, serve in community organizations with others, converse with people in grocery stores, barber shops, salons, and other venues that we frequent.
People observe how we speak, and how we “live the faith.”
By God’s Holy Spirit working through the Word and Baptism, we have been brought to faith in Jesus Christ. In our baptism, we are buried with Christ into His death and raised to walk in newness of life. St. Paul writes, “Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him” (Rom. 6:8).
Renewed by the Holy Spirit, our lives present an appearance that differs from the culture of the world. Transformed, we live by Biblical values, rather than those of the current culture. We live our faith not only on Sunday mornings, but every day and night of the week! As followers of Jesus, we represent Him wherever we are, in whatever we do, and whatever we say. We demonstrate the love of Christ, the One who loved and served us by giving His life that we might have life eternal.
Our prayer is that others would be drawn to the truth of Jesus, and that we would have the opportunity to speak of His love and how He served us.
A repeated theme throughout Scripture portrays how we live the faith: “love your neighbor.” From the Old Testament summary of relationships with others to the “new commandment” Jesus gave before His crucifixion, the message remains consistent: “love one another as I have loved you.”
In the Sermon on the Plain, Jesus says, “love your enemies!” Do good to them, bless them, and pray for them. Another challenge! That’s what Jesus did. He prayed for those who nailed him to the wooden cross. We, through faith in Him, connect to the power source that enables us to love even the enemy.
In our occupations we live the faith through ethical work practices, standing up for fellow employees who are being mistreated, and caring and helping them as opportunities arise.
In our vocations, whether it be family member, classmate, neighbor, or member of a community organization, we encounter situations in which we are called to love our neighbor. We listen, we grieve, we console, we rejoice, and we serve. Sometimes it’s simply providing for the basic human needs of food, clothing and shelter.
As we serve our neighbor, we are serving Christ. We are his witnesses in deed. Our good works bring glory to our Father in heaven.
The Apostle Peter tells us to always be ready to speak of the hope that we have in Christ. As we serve, God will orchestrate occasions to speak of the One who has served us through his death and resurrection.
That brings us full circle to the first phrase of our District Focus, “Know the Truth.” In order to share the truth, we need to know the truth of Jesus, the One who is the way, the truth, and the life.