Last week we finished up a 6 week series called DEEPER. I gotta tell you, it’s really challenged me personally to pay more attention to what God is up to in me. What he wants to do, how he wants to change me, how the scriptures can make a difference in my life and how relationship with him restores what’s broken in me. We talked about things like prayer, solitude, scripture intake, community, etc. Essentially, our conversation was around spiritual formation, that in turn led us to spiritual disciplines, and if applied to our lives, it will eventually change us and rearrange a few things in us.
One thing we have to be careful of is that we don’t ‘go deeper’ for the sake of depth. The temptation is to do all the things we talked about just to make us feel like we’re spiritual – to make us feel like we’re ‘good with God’. That would be a huge error. We talk a lot about the Jesus Creed at The Village: what it means to love God AND love others. We talk about a BOTH/AND kind of faith, not a one dimensional experience. Too often we look to scripture reading and to prayer as things that enhance ‘my life’ and ‘my life’ only. Spiritual formation isn’t just about growing deeper, it’s also about and possible more about growing taller.
In Matthew 7, Jesus was sharing a tale about ROCK & SAND. Before he gets into this great story, he says this, “Everyone who hears these words and puts them into practice”. Jesus wants to make this straight: Don’t just hear my teaching, don’t just tuck my words away in your pocket, don’t just plant them in your heart…without putting them to use. In a sense he’s saying that his story, his gospel, his kingdom, isn’t just about deep roots, it’s also about tall trees and extended branches. Funny thing about this story is that building a house on a ROCK is actually about how strong your foundation is. That said, the foundation is tested when a storm comes, when one actually takes the things they’re learning and puts them to the test. A tree will only know how strong it is when it’s branches are extended.
Paul, a prolific writer in the NT, in a letter to a young church in Ephesus gives us some insight as to how God wants us to respond to the things happening deep inside us. He says this, “You are God’s masterpiece (work of art), created for the good works, which God has prepared in advance for you to do”. We were made to extend our branches. We were made to DO good, not just to be good. We were created to initiate and create good things that point back to our creator. Too often we get stuck in between the things we do to grow our faith and the things that our faith compels us to do. Paul, in this letter, is inspiring us to take the gifts God’s given us and use them – to take them out of the closet or off the shelf, unwrap them, and put them to use. In essence he’s saying that all the good stuff God is doing under neath the surface (where no one sees) needs to be evident in the things we do, the work we’re involved in, the relationship we foster, and the lives we live.
Because now that we’ve gone deeper (and continually do so), we should really grow taller.