In Armstrong Redwood National State Reserve just outside of San Francisco there are giant redwoods that extend skyward over a football field in length. They have stood for centuries despite the heavy storms that come through the region.
How can the giant redwoods remain upright against the fierce winds that batter them? They are able to face storm after storm after storm without toppling over because of their unique root system. Their roots are only 12 feet under the surface. While 12 foot is not shallow, it doesn’t seem deep enough to hold a tree that large in the ground. On its own those roots would probably be inadequate.But the giant Redwoods aren’t standing on their own. If you were to scrape back the earth, you would see an intertwined network of roots.
The Redwoods are able to stand because they live in community with one another, which allows them to depend on one another for strength. What they can’t do on their own, they are able to do in community. That’s how they have been able to stand for 100’s of years despite the storms that batter them.
Likewise, the only way we can endure the storms of life and learn Jesus as God has intended is by living in community with one another. Our spiritual roots must not just extend deep but wide. We must be connected to and depend on own another. We must see one another as a means to learn Christ and remain steadfast against the storms of life.
Our culture pulls us away from community
I believe this is one of the more difficult concepts for American Christians to get and to put into practice. The United States is the greatest country in the world. I love our country and thank God regularly that I am an American citizen. But here is the thing, we have to be aware that culture influences. Not only do we need to know that culture is a powerful influencer, but we need to know the ways the culture in which we live influences us. As citizens of the United States, we are influenced to be fiercely independent. We are taught to rely on ourselves and no one else. We are told time and time again all we need to be successful is self-effort, ingenuity with a bit of luck sprinkled on top.
While it is true no one is going to do it for you. You can’t expect others to make things happen on your behalf. There is no substitute for hard work. While all that is true, we can’t fall into the trap of believing we don’t need one another, we can do it on our own, and we don’t need Christian community. We need one another!
But we need to press into community
Over a decade of ministry, I have seen this hold true. I have seen both men and women come to the church. I have seen them grow in the faith and in their understanding of God’s Word. I have seen them begin to live like Jesus. But then something happens. Their work schedule changes. They have a family issue they are embarrassed about. The church burns them out. There is conflict that is not dealt with biblically. For one of those reasons or another, they begin to pull away from the church. Attend a little less often. Soon, a little less turns into a lot less. They quit answering your phone call. They turn down invitations to coffee, lunch or dinner. They begin to isolate themselves from Christian community.
The next thing you know they are having marital problems, they are abusing a substance, they are compromising in their business, they aren’t standing firm in their faith and living on mission for Jesus. They aren’t accomplishing their purpose in life — to bring glory to God. Instead, they are seeking self-glory!
If we are going to remain steadfast, we need Christian community. It is the only way we are going to grow. It’s the only way we are going to see transformation and stand against the myriad of storms that come at us in life. We need community.
Not just any type of community
But we don’t just need any kind of community. We need a certain type of community. We don’t need a community that mirrors a country club. We don’t need a community that caters to our preferences. We don’t need a community that won’t be real with us when we are in sin. We don’t need a community like that. We can get that type of community in the world. The church is supposed to be different than the world. It is supposed to offer a different type of community.
We need a specific type of community to grow in Christlikeness
The type of community the church should offer and the type of community we need to be a part of is an authentic and interdependent transformative learning community.
What does that type of community look like?
Over the next several posts, we are going to explore the characteristics of an authentic and interdependent transformative learning community.
Want to keep learning?
Watch the sermon this post is based on.