Grow Deep Part 3: You and Me
Grow Deep Part 3: You and Me
Grow Deep, Grow Up, Grow Fruit, that’s the task of a follower of Christ. Grow Deep is what we are currently considering. Grow Deep, spread spiritual roots, so far and wide that you can withstand the storms of life. Growing Deep is all about your relationship with Jesus, it’s about being rooted deep in the Spirit.
In Part 1, the Flame of Experience we learned that growing deep requires more than just an intellectual pursuit of God, book knowledge is good, but it is not sufficient in setting down deep roots, you need experiential knowledge for that. Growing Deep requires that you have encounters with God so what you know in your head becomes what you feel in your heart.
In Part 2, Looking Up we learned that in order to grow deep we must look up, we must make the choice get rid of the attractions and desires of worldly concerns, what we can call an earthly gaze and set our minds on the things that matter in the Kingdom. We likened the old habits, attachments, addictions and value system in the old way of life like filthy rags that are to be ripped off and burned. Then we can wear God’s designer wardrobe of love.
In Part 3, we are going to consider the importance of what the bible calls fellowship. If we are going to grow deep we really do need each other. What Benjamin Franklin said years ago applies today as much as in Ben’s time:
“We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately. Creating fellowship takes time, it’s also one of the 7 habits of a disciple.
Before moving to California, I had heard of the mighty Redwoods, the Sequoias, but I had never actually encountered one. So I took the family and we went camping in Kings Canyon National Park. The trees are massive, and you don’t encounter just one, the Sequoias grow in groves. The tree has no tap root. The taproot is the dominant root that grows deep in the soil and acts as an anchor for the tree. The Sequoias roots go down only 12 to 14 feet but can grow over 200 feet in length. The reason you find Sequoias in groves is that each tree needs another to keep it rooted in the ground. One mature tree can spread its roots over an acre of land and those roots intertwine with other Redwoods, creating a huge base, a foundation, that can support up to 2 million pounds per tree. It’s a fellowship that keeps these trees standing. They only survive together.
Even though the roots of the Sequoias don’t grow deep, that root system is an illustration of what you need as a follower of Christ, you need fellowship to grow spiritually deep. It’s the trees standing together. This idea of solidarity is the concept that informs fellowship. The New Testament translators transformed the Greek word koinonia into our English word “fellowship.” To define what is meant we have to open our Greek dictionaries and when you do you will read that fellowship means “being together of mutual benefit.” Describing fellowship words like unity, partnership, community, and participation are used. A second definition is “to share in common.” The concept is one of deep intimacy, a relationship in which we engage in each other’s lives, a relationship of encouragement, trust, and love. Interdependence means I need you and you need me to survive. It’s this sort of relationship that you need to grow deep
Here’s a spiritual reality, everyone who has acknowledged that they need a savior, believed that Jesus is the savior they need, committed themselves to continue following Christ when God answers their heart’s desire, such an individual becomes part of the body of Christ. No, don’t think of the body like the body you happen to be in right now. The body of Christ is a picture of how we are interrelated to one another because of our faith.
1 Corinthians 12:27 (MSG)
You are Christ's body—that's who you are! You must never forget this.
You are not physically Christ’s body, this is a word picture of the incredibly intimate relationship you share with every other believer, even if they don’t totally agree with you doctrinally. You can’t survive on your own outside of the body. You can’t grow deep without a vital connection to other believers, without fellowship.
1 Corinthians 12:25-26 (MSG)
The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don't, the parts we see and the parts we don't. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance.
The spiritual reality is that God has willed that believers are to do life in unity. Being one with each other as He is one with we who believe in genuine personal relationships and mutual interdependence in which we authentically share the life of Christ.
John 17:22-23 (NIV)
I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
We are spiritually in this together. Why don’t we cultivate the spiritual relationships that we have? Lack of time, lack of priority, lack of motivation; you need fellowship with those who are one with Christ in order to grow deep, but it just doesn’t seem important enough to make the effort.
Who’s your best friend? In whose hand is your heart safe? Who do you trust completely to be for you? Who is the one who encourages you when you are down? Who do you call when you are hurt? Who do you want to go on vacation with? Who do you like being with? Who do you want to spend your time with? Who cheers you on? Who do you want to succeed? Who picks you up? Who makes your life worth living for? I’ll take it up a notch. Who would you sacrifice for, go out of your way for, allow your schedule to be interrupted for, meet their need even if it cost you plenty? Who would you die for? Got a picture in your mind of that person?
Here’s what blew me away as I studied how fellowship helps you grow deep; how fellowship helps you survive. Recall that person you thought, that best friend. That person is an example of the type of relationship we are empowered to have with every believer. That blew my mind. We are empowered to create, maintain, develop that kind of relationship with each person who is in the Body with us. I can hardly wrap my head around this concept. When we have even one such intimate relationship I think it’s a taste of what all our relationships will be like at the restoration of all things.
Here is some American folk wisdom: “You can’t soar like an eagle when you surround yourself with turkeys.” There are numerous variants like: “If you play with turkeys you’ll never soar with the eagles” or, “If you want to fly with the eagles, then stop hanging around the turkeys.” I know we’re talking about growing deep but you get the picture. Who you spend your time with will have a direct bearing on how deep you Grow in Christ. The people you hang with just might determine if you stay faithful or fall away.
1 Corinthians 15:33 (NIV)
Do not be misled: "Bad company corrupts good character."
That’s why mama wanted you hanging out with the nice kids in the neighborhood.
If you’re having difficulty growing deep ask yourself who do you spend your time with. The company you keep makes a difference. If you choose wisely, you will get the encouragement you need, the support you need to grow deep. The company you keep influences the direction of your life. Keeping the wrong company, you will find you are encouraged to give up the struggle and instead seek a life of pleasure and self-satisfaction. If you associate with those who share your values, then those values will be reinforced. When you associate with those who are also involved in this struggle to grow deep, to grow up, to grow fruit, their experiences will give you knowledge, strength, and hope. You will profit from their experience. Since they are also spiritual aspirants like you, they will inspire you, strengthen your resolve, elevate your aim, and enable you to progress more surely on this difficult path of discipleship.
Ecclesiastes 4:12 (MSG)
By yourself you're unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst. Can you round up a third? A three-stranded rope isn't easily snapped.
Who do you spend time with?
Time for a little meddling in your affairs.
Do you spend more time with-- I’m going to recite some names, do you spend more time with this person than you do creating, developing and growing relationships characterized by fellowship, than you spend time practicing this 3rd habit of a disciple.
Do you spend more time with Sheldon; Ellen; Hoda; Drew; “Ray Holt, Rosa Diaz, and Sophia Perez;” Captain Matthew Casey--Truck Company 81, “Bonnie, Christy, Jill and Adam;” Dr. Murphy, Dr Glassman, Dr. Browne, and Dr Melendez;” “Homer, Marge and Brat” -- Do you spend more time with them than you do creating, developing and growing relationships characterized by fellowship.
Who do we spend our time with? Who you spend time with influences your thinking. I don’t know about you but I don’t want to think like the Housewives of Orange County, or Saul Goodman or Claire Hale Underwood or Cersei Lannister. Or worse I don’t want to think like some of the people you work with. Are you going to find what you need to spiritually grow deep in their company?
Jesus said: “…when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I'll be there." Matthew 18:20 (MSG)
Can I prove that objectively, that Jesus is there with us? Not at all. But I can sense His presence, feel His presence, recognize His presence subjectively. It’s through encounters with Jesus that you grow deep.
Hebrews 10: 24,25 Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near.
The day drawing near is the day of the restoration, the renewal. Before that day of the Lord arrives things are going to become extremely difficult for believers. I think we will need each other to survive, we will desperately need each other.
There really is only one way to for you to create this kind of fellowship with other believers. Our original faith family demonstrates how for us.
Acts 2:42 (MSG)
They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers.
Then we jump down to verse 46
Acts 2:46-47 (NIV )
Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.
Our faith ancestors spent time with each other. They made the effort to be with each other as often as possible, disciplined themselves to be available, inconvenienced themselves to gather together. The only way I know how to create a fellowship is to be together.
We skipped a couple of verses: 43-45. The reason is I wanted to is so a point can be driven home about how connected our faith ancestors were to one another, one-way fellowship looks:
Acts 2:43-45 (NIV)
Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.
If a loved one, that person who came to mind when I asked you about your best friend, what would you withhold from them if they needed it? That’s the kind of fellowship we have been empowered to thrive in. You can enjoy fellowship, you can create fellowship, it's within your grasp. All it takes is a willing heart to commit yourself to spending the time to do so.
Grow deep with one another.