Summary: What does it mean to grow deep in small groups?
Last week we started a new series called Growth Through Groups and we began to take a look at three different areas that we will grow through groups- community, depth, and accountability. We looked at community, and how we need to do life together with other like minded people. People with the same desires as us, because when it comes down to it, community is a group of people with a common unity. There’s something that brings us together—like our love for God, or a desire to make people happy, or a desire to be the best versions of ourselves. We talked about how community is vital to the life of someone who wants to grow.
Tonight, we’re looking at another aspect of growth through groups - Depth. Looking at a subject like depth is just that---it’s deep. Kind of like this funny little sketch on SNL. (Deep Thoughts Clip)
When we talk about depth, what we’re actually talking about is being mature—essentially knowing what you believe and why you believe it. For lots of people, when they think of depth-they think of a tree with deep roots. The thinking is that if a tree wants to be big and strong, then it has to grow its roots deep into the soil to support its weight. I did some research on tree roots, and it’s actually quite different—tree roots tend to grow shallow and WIDE. Some do, in fact grow deep “tap roots,” but they rely on their surface roots for oxygen, moisture, and their nutrients. Most trees, though, spread their roots really wide, some as far as 10 times beyond the distance from the trunk to the top. So, when you think of a tree, maybe the thinking should be width, and not depth.
There is something in nature, though, that has some serious depth. When ships are out at sea, many of the naval officers see icebergs floating in the water moving against the current, even when high winds are blowing in the other direction. The reason is that only 10 percent of an icebergs mass is above water. The iceberg’s depth is 90 percent below water, making it nearly impossible to judge its size by looking at it. There’s technology around today that can monitor stuff like that, but back before 1912 none of that was in place which is why when the Titanic ran into it, the unsinkable ship sank. So, when we think of depth, we should think of an iceberg.
I wanna look at a couple of passages tonight that will help us understand what it means to grow deep before we talk through it in our groups. Turn to Ephesians 4:1-16 (Read)
Paul is writing to the believers in the churches at Ephesus about how a Christian should live. He says that we should live a life worthy of our calling – to have traits like humility and gentleness, patience, and that we should live in unity with our brothers and sisters. He also goes on to say that we each have gifts, and because of that we have a part to play. He wants us to work together much like members of the body, and when we do what we’re supposed to (prepare God’s people for works of service) then the “body of Christ will be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be like infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.” He’s saying that when we become mature—when we grow deep—then we won’t be like children, who are gullible, vulnerable, and easily victimized into believing anything and everything. We’ll be able to know and understand sound doctrine, and we’ll be able to tell if something’s fishy about what people are trying to teach us.
Have you ever spent time with little kids? They take in everything they hear. My cousin has a daughter that is almost 2. I was talking to him a while back and asked if she was walking and talking because I never see her. He said yeah, it’s amazing. She repeats almost everything she hears. He said if you don’t want her to say it, then you’d better not say it. Kids are impressionable. They’ll believe almost anything you tell them. Take magic, for instance. I do this trick for little kids, and they actually believe that my finger comes off! It’s amazing! They are so quick to believe in something when they hear it or see it.
When we grow deep in our knowledge, we won’t be like kids who need to be fed with a bottle of milk. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 “Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ. 2I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?“ The Corinthians were new Christians who were spiritually immature, so he says he had to feed them with milk and not solid food. They hadn’t grown deep, yet, though they should have because of how long they’d been following Christ. The writer of Hebrews makes the same point: Hebrews 5:11-14 “11We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. 12In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”