In an ever-changing culture that seems anchorless and chaotic with no moral compass, this rootless tree on Highway #290 en route to our town, grabs my attention.
In its rootlessness is a metaphor that speaks of the end result of living without the soul nourishing awareness of God and His Presence. With no anchor or guidance cultural impact is very disconcerting, scary depressing and hopeless, especially if you only focus on the dead tree.
God never intended for His children to be rootless – alone, no life within, no access to growth.He provided all we need to be well-rooted and stable in the midst of cultural rootlessness. Roots are important depending on what they are sunk into – good soil or destructive soil. It determines the fruit of what the plant will produce.
Consider these three possibilities:
Stay Rooted in God – our foundation. He created us in His image Genesis 1:26-27 NIV and provided entrance into relationship with Him through Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins that separated His fallen creatures from Him. Remember His eternal foundation and His Presence. He promises never to leave us no matter how bad it gets.
Stay Rooted in His Word – our nourishment. II Timothy 3:16 NIV “All Scripture is given… that the children of God may be thoroughly equipped to do good works”. Psalm 119:105 “The word of God is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”
Stay Rooted in Each Other – for our thriving and our forming. The New Testament “one anothers” are God’s protocol for living together. Hebrews 10:23-25 NIV “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.Let us not give up meeting together,...but let us encourage one another."
Community is essential. For example, Alan Graham, founder of The Community First Village Project in Austin, Texas that provides housing and jobs and most important a sense of belonging, is quoted in the July 29, 2019 issue of PEOPLE Magazine. "Housing will never solve homelessness, but community will. The single greatest cause of homelessness isn't drug addiction, mental health issues, affordable housing or living wages. People don't make the choice to become homeless. The cause of homelessness is the profound carastrophic loss of family."
God is a relational God as modeled in the Trinity—Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We were born with a relentless longing to participate in the lives of others. Fundamentally we are relational souls since we are created in His image*.
The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Colossians 2:6-7 wanted the believers to continue to live as they had received Christ - “rooted and built up in Christ." He wanted them to continue to sink their roots deep down into Him and be strengthened in their faith. His intention was that they would have healthy roots. Their cultural pull was pagan with multiple deities and an uncertainty about the after life.
There are many images in scripture of "rooted": In Mark 11:20 the fig tree withered from its roots; in Matthew 7:24 the parable of the foundation; in Matthew 13:3-9 parable of the soils – when the sun came up it withered because they had no root. Roots are important.
Two considerations that embellish rooted - we as believers are to “root down” and “root out.”
Root down is a metaphor for deep down roots that hold you in a storm. They are not shallow, not superficial, not tossed (James 1:6 NIV), not terrified (John 20:19-20 NIV). Your house won’t crash in a crisis, referring to the parable of the house on sand that fell with a great crash. It had no roots, nothing to hold it in place; the house on rock stood firm (Matthew 7:24- 27 NIV). It takes time for roots to develop, but it's the roots that draw up nourishment for the plants to flourish from the soil - rich, healthy soil and it takes time, water, food right exposure to help it thrive. Consider the parallel that good soul health produces fruit that is nourishing.
Root out is a warning in scripture of dangerous roots. Hebrews 12:15 “See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defiles many.” A friend, who has a huge garden that would be the envy of any Master Gardner, commented in the rooted context that the spiky vine “greenbriar” is actually good browse for deer; but it is very tough to remove once it get its roots into an area. A root of bitterness is tenacious the longer it grows relationally/circumstantially and difficult to “root” out.
God relates to His beloved creations and meets our relational needs through His provision.
Stay Rooted in God, In His Word and In Each Other Colossians 2:6-7
What does being rooted look like for you? When have you felt rooted? What causes you to feel rootless? What have you done about how you felt?
As you reflect on this…just rest in the Lord this day and listen…listen to what he might want to say to you in the quietness.
*Plass, RIchard and James Cofield, The Relational Soul:Moving from False Self to Deep Connection. Downers Grove, Il:InterVarsity Press, 2014
Picture source Andrew Seidel