I love walking in forests and have been privileged to do so in different parts of Europe. It would be wonderful to walk in the redwood forests of California, and see the world’s tallest trees, some of which are over 2000 years old. Alas, I’ve never been to the US.
Whenever you see such tall trees you assume that their roots go down deep under the ground to support them. Surprisingly, that’s not the case with redwoods. Their roots are very shallow- only 5 or 6 feet deep. Their enormous weight is supported, in part, by the interlocking of a tree’s roots with those of the other trees around it.
In his commentary on Hebrews, George Guthrie takes this natural phenomenon and uses it as a picture of what the church should be like: “As Christians we need ‘interlocking roots’ with other believers in the church to withstand the enormous weight of life. We need others ‘spurring us on toward love and good deeds’ (Hebrews ch 10 v 24) in a world so bent on self-centredness and self-gratification.”
As we meet with other Christians, we have both the privilege and responsibility of making a positive impact upon their lives: “24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching (Hebrews ch 10 vs 24-5).”
Imagine we all turned up to church on Sundays, not only to worship the Lord, but also having carefully thought about how we can intentionally stir one another up to living more radically for Jesus. If we’re honest, we know many of us can be lukewarm in our Christian lives. We are drowsy and need the help of others to wake us up. We are also prone to thinking about church in a self-centred way, with little thought of others, and focused on our own feelings.
God knows our propensity for half-hearted discipleship and that is exactly why he has given us one another and commands all of us to stir each other up. It goes without saying that Christians can only do this effectively if they know one another reasonably well, and take the opportunities after the services, and in mid-week church gatherings (house groups and prayer meetings and Bible studies) to talk meaningfully about our lives as Christians.
We all need a degree of openness and honesty for this to happen. Surely it’s better for us to share (with some people at least) our struggles and doubts and fears and questions. Sometimes we can be lazy in our faith and do a minimal amount in the church. Sometimes we have little concern for the lost. Sometimes our marriages, relationships with our children and friends, and attitudes to one another are far removed from what we are tempted to project on social media. Under the surface, all is not well. We are flagging and we need others in the church to “stir us up”, encouraging us and sometimes even challenging our behaviour. We need help and we need accountability.
I believe Kirkcaldy Free Church is making progress in our support of one another. No doubt we have a long way to go. The godly example of some of our older Christians has stirred us up; the way in which they are so faithful in church attendance and Christian service has been invaluable to us.
We have been stirring one another up by talking much more about the Bible after it has been preached and I hope this can develop still further. The opportunities and forums to talk of how Jesus impacts all areas of our lives are there- but will we take them? The more we do, the more our own spiritual roots will intertwine and the more unity and stability we shall enjoy. Let’s keep on considering more and more ways of helping those who need stirring up. I’m in need of being stirred up. That’s why God tells you to do it to me!