Hello there, Sumites!
So great to be with you today to celebrate the 15th year of this beautiful ministry!
I mean, community. Because that’s what this is, more than anything.
God’s taught me a lot about unity over the years. I still remember when the Holy Spirit significantly shifted our thinking here at SUM to a “we” mentality and to seeing ourselves as family and a church without walls.
Over the last two years, God has been speaking to my heart a lot about a deeper level of community, specifically intimacy and relationship. Not just with Him but with each other. And let me tell you, that has been challenging. Why? Because I had to learn to be independent at a very young age. So I became very good at figuring out how to do things on my own.
But in God’s family, we aren’t meant to function alone. Hebrews 10:25 even encourages believers to continue to meet together. Not because it was the “right” thing to do, but because the author (most likely Paul) knew believers needed each other in order to be strong and grow.
Which brings me to a revelation God showed me just recently. It’s the story of the seeds scattered on different kinds of ground. If you’re not familiar with it, take a moment and read Luke 8:5-15. In this passage, Jesus talks about how the seeds grew (or didn’t grow) in hard ground, gravel, weeds and good soil.
I’m sure you, like me, have read or heard this parable taught as a condition of the heart, which it is. But I’d like to propose that’s it’s also about the community in which we are planted.
Jesus describes how the seeds became bird food on hard ground. This depicts a lack of relationship with God and people. There’s no nourishment from intimacy, and there’s no community. Just a bunch of loners being seeds and nothing more. Which means there’s no opportunity for growth or change.
He then moves on to the gravel, where the seeds start to sprout but soon die off without moisture. This is most likely a broken community or one controlled more with a relationship with the law instead of the Lord. Rough edges and fear keep true connection and intimacy from happening. Offense can be present too, as well as competition.
Next we come to the weedy place. Seems pretty good at first, this community of all kinds coming from all directions. But the intimacy we long for as children of God isn’t really found here. It might be a good social place, but in the long run, it’s not the deep nourishment we need to connect and grow in our faith and in our destiny.
Lastly, we hit the mother load. The rich soil, packed with everything we need to grow. Warmth from the sun (the Son), nutrients to bring growth (the Holy Spirit), and even a farmer (Father God). What’s really amazing in this place is the connection to others, because farmers never plant just one seed. No, they plant a multitude in hopes for a full blown crop (community).
We are meant to be in relationship not only with God but with each other. Jesus goes on to give a picture of the levels of relationship in chapter eight.
- Verses 16-18 speak of relationship with community.
- Verses 19-21 speak of relationship with family.
- Verses 22-25 speak of relationship with Jesus.
- Verses 26-39 speak of what happens when there is no relationship. Just aloneness and isolation.
Where we plant ourselves has a huge impact on our life and our future. Our destiny as well, because without others to speak truth and life into us, we can become lost without that vision.
Even within our mismatched marriages, which can be spiritually limiting, it is vital that we plant ourselves in a faith community to be nourished and encouraged. To be real and honest about what we need, where we need to grow, and how we can do the same for those we’re sharing the vital soil with.
That’s true community. No judgement. Just encouragement and unconditional love that’s willing to be open and honest.
So my question to you today is, where are you planted? Do you have other believers to support and encourage you? Do you have key people you are willing to be open and honest with? And are you willing to receive their encouragement even when it may stretch you in a good way?
This place, this blog, has been about this very thing for the last fifteen years. It’s a beautiful place to connect, grow, and step into the more that God has for you. And the choice is always yours, my friend.
So be planted in rich places and grow for Jesus!