October 13, 2010 by Dwight Bernier
My wife and I read Psalm 1 together the other night and talked about what it looks like for us to have our roots planted in the stream of the gospel. This morning I was in Jeremiah 17, and in verses 7 & 8, Jeremiah busts out with some Psalm 1 (also different parts of Psalm 1 found in Jeremiah 15.16). I’ll put the passage here from Jeremiah:
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit” – Jeremiah 17.7-8
As we’re thinking about how we best want to help people plant the roots of their life in the gospel – we see five different relationships that will help us plant our roots in the stream of the gospel so that it moves through “our tree”. Because unless the tree is rooted in a source that will nourish and cause growth and fruit, the tree will not last, regardless of how beautiful and magnificent the tree appears. The source of the growth of the tree is the most important – and the source (the stream) must be the fountain of living water that will not cease to flow and nourish (Jeremiah 17.13).
The first relationship is with the triune God. Jesus calls Himself the bread of life (John 6), living water (John 4 & 7), emphasizing the fact that He must be our source of nourishment. We eat roughly three times a day so that we do not lose energy and falter in what we are doing in life. Jesus calls Himself the living bread and promises that those who eat of it will live forever. Furthermore, Jesus is called the Word of God. In Psalm 1.2, the psalmist tells us that the man who is blessed is the man who delights in the law of the Lord and meditates upon this day and night. This parallels the eating concept. Meditation and eating seem to go together well – because we are continually chewing through meditation and being nourished through the intake of true and living food. Our God always calls us back to the stream. He is calling us to pluck up our roots and firmly plant them in His Son, in the stream of the gospel. And He gives us other relationships that will assist in that calling.
The second relationship is with our wives & children if this applies. We are called to be one flesh with our spouse, which requires coming back to the gospel to see that we are to serve, honor, submit, love, pursue, and desire our spouse. Yet we are different than our spouse and oftentimes are very selfish and want our spouse to conform to our ways of doing things. But our spouse is called to help bring me back to the stream, because we are one flesh, one root, and we want that to be pulling from the gospel and not the latest pop-psychology how-to book for our marriage. In regards to our children, we are called to help them understand what it means to live with our roots planted firmly in the gospel. And we’re not just supposed to tell them about it, but discipline them towards it, show them what it looks like for us to live dependent upon God and His gospel, and to call them back to the source when they want to plant themselves next to a stream that will not bear them fruit.
The third relationship is with a fight club. A fight club is a band of three brothers or sisters that want to help each other fight sin and help understand what it looks like for us to live by the gospel in these areas of life rather than by the passions of the flesh. In our fight clubs, we talk openly about our struggles with believing and being nourished by the stream of the gospel that week. We then help one another uproot from the reservoirs that promise us life (lust, money, approval, power, pride, control, drug/alcohol dependence, comfort, etc.) and point one another back to the gospel. This third relationship is one in which we are deeply known by a few in a way that others don’t know us. These are the guys or ladies that are truly fighting alongside us to root ourselves in the gospel.
The fourth relationship is with a missional community. A missional community is a group of people (10-15) that gather to share ordinary life and truth, love God and one another, seek the social and spiritual welfare of the city – truly the church being the church with one another and the city. A missional community is not merely a small group Bible study or a meeting – but it is a group of people that want to be involved in helping to ‘gospel’ one another and minister to one another. They are together ultimately to help one another keep planting their roots in the gospel and not something else. They do this through all of life. They share ordinary life with gospel intentionality so that the stream of the gospel and Jesus is what is nourishing one another.
The fifth relationship is when the church gathers. Usually churches are too large to function as missional communties. It is sociologically impossible if it is larger than 15 persons. But we come together as the church to be exhorted to believe Jesus and His gospel, to be rebuked in our sin and believing lies and worshiping other gods, to encourage one another and build one another up, to celebrate the ordinances together (Lord’s supper & baptism), to hear the gospel preached, sung and spoken to one another and to be reminded that Jesus is coming back for His people but that He is also still building His church through His people – so we’re called on mission together.
These five relationships point us back to the stream of the gospel, the fountain of living water. When the tree is healthy, it produces fruit. The gospel will produce fruit in the lives of believers. Because of the gospel and what it is doing in our lives, the fruit is love for our neighbors, a desire to serve our community, listening and being patient with our children, giving to the poor, being gentle as we talk to those who don’t love Jesus, loving our brothers and sisters in Christ, etc. The fruit that comes from the gospel is endless – and it all happens because of what the stream is doing to the tree. May we be convinced that it is God who is at work in us and it is not us who are producing the fruit – but His gospel. Jesus gets the glory of all!
Plant your roots in the stream of gospel and get others to call you back to this.