Putting Down Roots (Click to read full post)


Putting Down Roots

Colossians 2:6-7 – Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.

For several summers during college, I worked for a man who built logging roads out in the woods. Of all the secular jobs I have done, this was probably my favorite. I have always enjoyed working outside and running a chainsaw. I liked the variety of work we did, and I enjoyed the men I worked with.

One day, when we were working way back in the woods, I noticed several dry creek beds in the area. I commented to one of my coworkers that I was surprised to see the creeks dried up so early in the summer. He told me that those stream beds were formed the last time the area was logged. When the trees were removed, the demand on the ground water was greatly reduced. The excess water rose to the surface, forming creeks. When the area was replanted with new trees, the demand for ground water increased, and the streams dried up. When I expressed my surprise at this process, he laughed and told me that there was as much if not more tree below the ground than there was above the ground.

I had not thought of that interaction again, until I began preaching through Colossians in 2014. When we came to Colossians 2:6-7, God brought the memory of that conversation to my mind. The vision of a tree, with more going on unseen under the dirt than above ground, creates a wonderful picture of the Christian life.

The Christian life begins when we receive Christ Jesus as Lord. There must be a moment in every person’s life where they recognize that they are a sinner alienated from God and deserving His wrath. In desperation, they turn from their sin to trust in Jesus, whose sinless life, sacrificial death, and victorious resurrection are God’s gracious means of forgiving our sin and giving us eternal life.

Receiving the Savior is the initial expression of our faith. But the Bible teaches that true belief finds daily expression in our lives as we begin to follow Jesus. Paul describes this aspect of faith as walking in Him. This means that our lives are ordered around who Jesus is and who we are in Him.

In vs. 7, Paul gives three participles to define for us what it means to walk in Him. The first is that we are to be firmly rooted in the unchanging truths of God. The world and its thinking is like sand on the seashore that shifts every time the tide changes. But the word of God is unchanging. Like a tree, we are to sink roots into Christ. From Him we draw the spiritual life we need to thrive in our relationship with God and to live for Him in the world.

As our roots sink deeper into Christ, we are built up in Him. This describes our spiritual growth. The closer we walk with God, the more He transforms us into the image of Christ. Eventually, we are established in the faith. Like the house built on the rock that Jesus described in Matthew 7, the established Christian cannot be moved.

I love how the life of a tree pictures the Christian’s cycle of growth. A tree must put down roots if it is to survive. Once its roots are established it can grow. But as the tree grows, it needs more water and nutrients. Therefore, it sends roots down deeper and wider in search of these things. As the roots expand, the tree grows, creating this ongoing cycle that, given enough time, causes a large tree to be established in the forest. So it is with the Christian. We are to be in a constant growth cycle of seeking God’s truth in His word so we can put it into practice in our lives. Consistently doing this establishes us in the faith.

My hope for this blog is to help people deepen the roots of their faith. When I think about the Christians I admire the most, three elements seem to mark their pursuit of spiritual growth. First and foremost, they have a love for God’s word that causes them to study and apply it to their lives. Second, they have a curiosity about spiritual things that causes them to ask and seek answers from God’s word. Third, they read good books that help them understand God’s word.

I cannot create a love for God’s word in anyone. That is a work God must do in our hearts; and it is something each of us should seek to cultivate within ourselves; so I will focus on the second two elements. On the first of each month, I will recommend a ‘book of the month’ from a wide array of Christian literature. Then on the 15th of each month, I will, to the best of my ability, seek to answer questions about specific passages or subjects that people have asked me about. My hope is that together we might grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18).

To God alone be the glory!