If you’ve read my personal description and noted my deep love for stylish 4-inch heels, you know I’m less like the Jolly Green Giant® (“Ho! Ho! Ho!”®) and more like Sprout®.¹ I’m vertically challenged. The truth is, the majority of people in junior high and older are taller than me, even in my 4-inchers. When my boys hit the milestone they’d been waiting for, I had to remind them being taller than me was less of an accomplishment than they might think. They immediately reset their goal to something more respectable: be taller than Dad. I had a growth spurt totaling an inch and a half in junior high. I say, Go for it, guys!
Just about everyone over the age of 13 ½ enjoys the perspective I only have with infants, toddlers, and very small elementary kids—seeing the top of someone’s head at their full height. As a mom of teens, I might be grateful not to see it in this stage of life. *grin* But, I’m perfectly aware of their point of view when they say, “Hey, Mom, it’s time to get hair color,” or, “Hey, Dad! We can’t forget Mom’s hair color when we go to the store tonight.” I love my sons and my 5G!
Before I can see the roots, my kids can, and I suspect nearly everyone else in the world does, too. Which reminds me….
About four weeks after every episode of “Battlestar Metallica” (you know it as hair coloring), I know the metallic roots are beginning to reveal their splendor and dignity (Proverbs 20:29). If I’ve got a crazy-busy schedule, by six weeks the roots are gloriously (or glaringly) “shiny” when I look in the mirror. Whatever I’ve done to the individual hairs never changes the follicle reality. As far as I know, the new growth will be sans my lovely chestnut brown from now on. (That was my original color, wasn’t it? Am I the only one that has difficulty remembering this little detail without a photograph?)
Roots matter. A lot. Whether a hair, a plant, or our spiritual identity, everything grows out of the critical unseen foundation. This wasn’t lost on Paul, the Apostle. He reiterated the scriptural truth in his letters to two churches.
To the church in Ephesus he wrote:
16 I pray that from the treasures of his glory he will empower you with inner strength by his Spirit, 17 so that the Messiah may live in your hearts through your trusting. Also I pray that you will be rooted and founded in love, 18 so that you, with all God’s people, will be given strength to grasp the breadth, length, height and depth of the Messiah’s love, 19 yes, to know it, even though it is beyond all knowing, so that you will be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3 CJB (Emphasis mine.)
To Colosse he wrote:
6 Therefore, just as you received the Messiah Yeshua as Lord, keep living your life united with him. 7 Remain deeply rooted in him; continue being built up in him and confirmed in your trust, the way you were taught, so that you overflow in thanksgiving. Colossians 2 (Emphasis mine.)
Paul doesn’t introduce a new concept. The Old Testament mentions people “rooted in Amalek,” for example (Judges 5:14), and those who will be “rooted out” of a place (Deuteronomy 29:28; Proverbs 2:22). We’ve got some obvious clues to usage: there is foundational establishment, and there is removal or razing. Let’s take a closer look at the establishing, since that’s where the grace seems to lie for me in this moment.
Both usages in Paul’s letters are the same Greek word: rhizoō. We get our garden jargon from it (rhizome). The translation might be rendered
to cause to strike root, to strengthen with roots, to render firm, to fix, establish, cause a person or a thing to be thoroughly grounded ²
Paul illuminates grace. Can you smell it wafting through these two passages?
In Ephesians 2, Paul prays God “empowers” the believers from his limitless resources through the Holy Spirit, so that Christ would abide in their hearts through their “trusting” (vv. 16-17). The foundational piece here is the relationship between trusting Christ, the Holy Spirit, and God’s strength. If there’s a taproot, this is it.
Then the actual mention of rooting (establishment, strengthening, or grounding) follows. Be “rooted and founded in love” (v. 17). Why love? The direct connection is knowing the rich depth of his love leads to being “filled with the fullness of God” (v. 19). So being enrapt by and rooted in the love of Christ on the cross leads to a beautiful gift: a life with power far more than our own and a greater understanding of the Unfathomable One. Knowing the love of God and living it out transforms us and introduces us to new profound, overwhelmingly loving heart of our Father, Savior, and Spirit.
Colosse receives a word sharing the same foundation. The believers “received Messiah Yeshua as Lord” — they trusted in Jesus for salvation (v. 6). The next part carries nuance that speaks to me. Do you see the verbs? He says, “keep living” and “Remain deeply rooted” (vv. 6-7). This passage seems to encourage the church in a slightly different way. Paul wrote this letter by the prompting of God for this time and this audience. What it says to me in this moment is simple. We might say “Keep on keepin’ on” in this day and age. I notice Paul highlights the outflow of being rooted in this case as thankfulness.
Imperatives like this express participatory but not sole responsibility, in my mind. Our own pitiful energy doesn’t produce much. In fact, we’ve got nothin’ without close, direct relationship with Jesus (John 15:5). The grace is in the love he had for us, even when we were his enemies (Romans 5:8). That’s the fuel for our fire. We love because we know his love (1 John 4:19). And his love is boundless! There is nowhere we can go that separates us from him (Psalm 139; Romans 8:35). Our God is with us, Immanuel—doing all of life with us—empowering us in the things he has in mind. We simply must establish all that we are in his heart, character, and activity. Henry Blackaby would say, “Look for what God is already doing and join him.” ³
Going Deep: Root Examination
I mentioned earlier that we can be rooted in other things, like the people rooted in Amalek. It isn’t a matter of whether we are rooted, but where we are. Interests, energies, and investments reveal so much! The establishment of trust in the unseen or overlooked foundational things will always grow something. Examine where you’ve got roots. Inspect the outgrowth for health and likeness to the heart of your Father, the love of your Savior, and the activity of the Spirit.
Right now I’m sitting with the facts. I’m created for good works (Matthew 5:16; Ephesians 2:10), but that’s not a root. The work I do is strongly established by God when I participate with him (Psalm 90:17). Even when I like to think I’m deeply rooted in my church, Scripture says I’m grafted into the people of God (Romans 11:17-24). That’s an above-the-soil-line connection, not a root.
I have explicit instructions to root in Christ and his love. That’s where I want to establish all that I say, think, and do.
In the words of my favorite character in Forrest Gump, “That’s all I have to say about that.” 4
¹ Jolly Green Giant, “Ho! Ho! Ho!” and Sprout are registered trademarks. www.greengiant.com
² rhizoō sourced from www.blueletterbible.org
³ Henry T. Blackaby. Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God.
4 IMDb. Forrest Gump. 1994.
Sprout® Photo Credit: Unknown. I do not own the rights to this photo. Credit goes to the original creator.
Scripture sourced from http://www.biblestudytools.com.