We can read the Bible in a superficial way, looking for heart-warming stories or good moral guidelines, but if our roots are shallow a storm or drought might be enough to topple our faith. When we go deeper, seeking to know God through His Word and through prayer, our roots will grow strong and deep. Others do not see the roots, but our attitudes and actions will show strength and endurance that are beyond self help or self discipline.
There will be:
A greater appreciation of God’s love for weak and fallible humans. God does not love people in proportion to their obedience to a set of rules. The Bible reveals just how weak we humans are. Men of old talked to God, tried to do what He asked of them and often blundered. God still loved them and blessed them. We must discern between a mistake and deliberate disobedience. Let’s beware of the thought that, “I made a couple of mistakes, but you were disobedient.” The reality may be just the opposite. Nevertheless, whether we made a mistake or disobeyed, God is merciful if we are willing to try again. Deep and strong roots in the love of God enable us to have the same compassionate attitude toward others.
Submission to God, trusting that He knows what is ahead of us and will guide us in the way He wants us to go. Such trust is known as humility and meekness. When God and His ways are mocked or attacked, I don’t need to be defensive, it’s not my job to set these people straight. The battle is God’s and He will deal with His enemies in His own way and His own time.
Boldness in speaking of God’s love and righteousness. Yes, it is possible to be humble, meek and bold, all at the same time, as long as there is no combativeness mixed with my boldness “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God” (1 Peter 4:11). The oracles of God are not my opinions, and not for me to enforce, but I must not be fearful or apologetic about speaking them.
Here on the dry plains of Saskatchewan we haven’t had any significant rain for six weeks. The grass has turned brown; it’s not dead, but it’s not growing either. The trees are green and show no sign of stress. The difference? Grass roots are shallow and depend on surface moisture provided by rain; tree roots go deep, down to the water table.
The first Psalm says this of the person who delights in the law of the Lord and meditates upon it day and night: “he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”
What do other people see when they look at Christians? Do they see people who are tired, withered, just hanging on to spiritual life? Or do they see people with a living, growing, vibrant faith? If we resemble grass rather than trees, is it any wonder that people do not find themselves drawn to our faith?
There is a great void in our world today, people feel a lack of hope, a lack of purpose, and they try to fill that void with things and activities that do not give them hope or purpose. We believe we have the answer, but it doesn’t seem that anyone is interested. Perhaps what we need is not better techniques of evangelism, but a revitalized faith in our own lives.
“The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever” (Isaiah 40:8). Some folks think they are getting deep into the Word when they are really following a man-made interpretation of a small part of the Word and ignoring the rest. Such teachings are grass, they will fade and they provide no meaningful nourishment.
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (1 Timothy 3:16). So let’s read it all, even the passages that are difficult, that trouble our hearts. Reproof and correction are necessary for spiritual growth and vitality.
To be revitalized we need to drink deeply of the water of life, the Word of God. Superficial reading won’t do it. Reading only brief, familiar passages in a haphazard way, never getting to know the context and the background of those passages, is like depending upon brief drizzles of rain. They won’t sustain us in the heat of the day.
May we appear as an oasis in the desert of this world, not just part of the arid landscape, but a sign of hope.