Revive Our Hearts Podcast

One Another

Leslie Basham: Do you need other people? Here's Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Isolation and division in the body of Christ is a tactic that Satan uses to bring believers down. If we don't have accountability, if we don't have encouragement, if we don't have our roots intertwined with each other, if we get isolated, or if we get divided; we're going to fall.

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Friday, August 5th. Rugged individualism is a trait that Americans tend to admire. We love stories about the businessperson who pulls herself up by her own bootstraps. This may be an American trait, but it's not necessarily a Biblical trait. Here's Nancy in a series called, Who Needs the Church?

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Have you ever been to the redwood forests in California? I had the chance to go there for the first time a few years ago and it really is--it's just unbelievable. These redwood trees . . . . I'm told that they're the largest and the tallest trees in the world. Some of them grow over 350 feet high. Some of them are more than 2,500 years old. That's a long time.

Now you'd think that trees that large would have a huge root system growing down into the earth hundreds of feet. But actually, the redwood trees have a very shallow root system. Most of the roots don't go down any deeper than 6-10 feet into the earth, which is not that much considering some of these trees are 350 feet tall.

You have to ask yourself, "How do these enormous trees stand upright for thousands of years?" Well, there's a secret. The secret is in the roots. These trees grow close together and all their root systems intertwine. The root systems are locked to each other. They're inextricably connected to each other. So when the storms come and the winds blow as they do, the redwoods stand, but they don't stand alone. They all support and protect each other.

I'm just reminded, as I think about those redwoods, of the fact that we need each other as believers. We don't stand alone. If we try to stand alone, we'll blow over alone when the storms and the winds come. We need each other. We need our roots to be connected to each other if we're going to stand strong and grow tall and live long.

The book of Hebrews in the early chapters is a book about drawing close to God. How can sinful human beings get close to God? That's what the first 9 or so chapters of Hebrews are about. How can we draw near to God? But then when you get to chapter 10, the writer of Hebrews comes to an implication. He says, "Draw near to God," in verse 21. Then verse 24-25 he says, "Now draw near to each other." If you're going to grow up in your relationship with God, you've got to draw near to each other in the body of Christ.

Hebrews chapter 10, verses 24-25: "Let us consider how to stir up one another for love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near." That's the final day, the day of judgment, the day of Christ. As you see that day drawing near, remember to draw near to each other so that you can help each other stand, so that together you can draw near to God.

Isolation and division in the body of Christ is a tactic that Satan uses to bring believers down. If we don't have accountability, if we don't have encouragement, if we don't have our roots intertwined with each other, if we get isolated or if we get divided; we're going to fall.

As you read through the New Testament, you find a lot of instructions that talk about how we're supposed to deal with one another. They're sometimes called the "one anothers" of Scripture. Among other things, we're to greet one another, to comfort one another. And by the way, we'll have this list with Scripture references on ReviveOurHearts.com.

We're to greet one another, to comfort one another, forgive one another, build one another up, serve one another, bear one another's burdens, encourage one another, meet with one another. These are all things you'll find in the New Testament. Be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving toward one another. We're to receive or welcome one another as Christ received us. We're to care for one another. We're to minister to one another, to show hospitality to one another, to pray for one another. And those are just some of the "one anothers" of Scripture.

Now as you hear that list, wouldn't you love to be a part of a group of believers that functions that way, that really lives out the "one anothers" of Scripture? I think the fact that we fall short of that in our churches is what makes some people give up and leave the church or just withdraw. They say, "It's not working." What we need to do, instead, is not wait for others to do these things to us or criticize our churches because people aren't doing these "one anothers" to the extent that they should. We need to get on the ball and do them ourselves. What you would have others do to you, do to them.

So begin praying for others, showing hospitality, caring, being kind, meeting with others, encouraging others, bearing other's burdens. You do it. Don't wait for others to do it. So many people on the church rolls today, so many people call themselves believers are reaping the consequences of a lack of this kind of community, this kind of having your roots intertwined with each other.

There was a tragic story that appeared in an article in a recent issue of MacLean's magazine. It took place in Winnipeg, Canada. One November day in 2002, 53 year-old Jim Sulkers, who was a retired municipal worker, got into bed, pulled up the covers and died.

Nearly two years later, on August 25th, 2004 police who had been called by concerned relatives . . . (once you hear this, you'll wonder how concerned they were or how related they were). Police who had been called by concerned relatives entered Sulkers' apartment and found his body in a mummified state. Everything else in his tidy one-bedroom apartment was intact although the food in his fridge was spoiled (no doubt) and his wall calendar was two years out-of-date.

Mr. Sulkers' death went undiscovered for several reasons. This is what struck me as we're thinking about who needs the church. He was reclusive, the article said, estranged from family members, and he had a medical condition that prevented his body from decomposing and emitting odors. In addition, automatic banking deposited his disability pension and withdrew utilities and other expenses as they came. So no one knew the man was dead! No one knew there was a problem. No one knew there was a need.

When I read that story I thought, "That reminds me of so many church members." Their names are on the church roll, but they disappear from the life of the church. They end up in a crisis, but nobody notices. Nobody knows until it's too late. Why? Because they weren't connected to the community. They were reclusive; they were estranged from the family.

Here's a situation we end up with. In some cases these people may not have physically disappeared from the church. They may be sitting in church every Sunday, but inside they're dead or nearly so.

Their marriage is dead, but nobody knows. They're not functioning spiritually, but nobody knows. Why? Because even though their body is there, they're disconnected from the community. It's like being virtually alive, but not really alive. Nobody comes around and says, "How are you doing? Really, how are you doing?" We're just bodies walking past each other and some of us in mummified states. What a picture of so many of our churches.

I think of Revelation chapter 3 verse 1 where Jesus said to the church in Sardis, "You have a name that you are alive, but you are dead." Listen, when you're in a community, when you're connected at the roots to the people of God, the family of God, you can't fall over as easily. But you have to contribute to that. You can't be reclusive; you can't be estranged, and neither can you blame it on everybody else. You've got to be willing to get involved.

Larry Crabb says this: "We were designed by our Trinitarian God who is Himself a group of three persons in profound relationship with each other. We were designed by that Trinitarian God to live in relationship. Without it, we die. It's that simple."

It was in July of 2002 that we heard the story of the nine miners who were trapped for three days in Quecreek Mine in Pennsylvania. They were 240 feet underground in a water-filled mineshaft. One news report said that they decided early on that they were either going to live or die as a group. The 55 degree Fahrenheit water threatened to kill them slowly by hypothermia.

So, according to one news report, when one would get cold, the other eight would huddle around the person and warm that person. When another person got cold, the favor was returned. Those nine men, as the nation sat and watched the rescue efforts, those nine men faced hostile, life-threatening conditions together, together. They all came out alive together, together.

What a picture of the body of Christ. We live in a hostile world with life-threatening conditions. There are all kinds of forces that are threatening to destroy our faith, to strip us of our heart for God. That's why like those tall redwoods, like those Quecreek miners, we need to stand, suffer, live, grow, function, work, endure together. We need each other. It's not an option; it's a matter of survival.

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss will be right back to pray. Maybe you've been convinced today, and you're ready to find a church. As you look, I hope you'll listen to Revive Our Hearts all next week. Nancy will address how to look for a church and how to become involved once you do. It's all part of a series called, Who Needs the Church?

If you've missed any of the programs this week, you can order a CD of the entire series. Just call us at 1-800-569-5959 or go online to ReviveOurHearts.com. That's also where you'll find the list Nancy mentioned today. It's the list of "one anothers" in the Scripture. You'll find it at ReviveOurHearts.com.

You can also donate online. Just like you, we can't operate on our own. We need God's power and listeners to pray and support this ministry financially. You heard this program thanks to the generosity of others, and you can help us pass this message on to even more women. You can give by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com or call 1-800-569-5959. Here's Nancy to lead us in prayer.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Father, as I think about those miners and how they decided they were going to live or die together, and they chose to live together, to warm each other's bodies, to stay close together, to huddle up to each other. And I think about those redwoods, and how they stand tall because they grow together and their roots are intertwined. And then Lord I thank You for the people that You've put around me to stand with me and their roots are intertwined with mine. They know me well enough to know when there's an issue.

I thank you Lord that I couldn't go for two years as that Mr. Sulkers did in a desperate condition without someone knowing about it because I've got relationships in the body of Christ because I'm connected to Your people. Thank you Lord for those people; thank you for Your body. Help us Lord to see our need for each other and realize that it really does matter for survival and growth. Thank you, in Jesus' name, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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