And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Colossians 2:6-7
Scripture uses a lot of literary language that compares our faith to the seasonal nature of nature, especially plants, trees, flowers, vines, etc… So, as I mentioned last week, we will attempt to view faith through this same lens and will be spending the next several posts on what I will refer to as “The Seasons of Faith.”
Ecclesiastes 3:1 tells us, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…” and then goes on to describe many of the seasons we endure in life and faith, including the planting, pruning, and harvesting seasons. Today, I want to talk about the planting season and what it means to be ROOTED IN RELATIONSHIP.
I want to start here because our relationship with God is the foundational truth on which we will build the rest of this series, and because it is the first thing – and quite possibly, the only thing.
Simply put, our relationship with God through the person of Jesus Christ is the foundation of faith and the very root from which we grow and bear fruit for this hungry world.
Maybe Christianity is a little bit new and mysterious to you and that sounds like a bold statement to make right off the bat (it is, but I promise to do my best to explain why I believe this.) Or maybe you’ve been at this faith thing awhile, and you’re thinking that this sounds basic and obvious, and that we should just be able to move on from here and on to something a little more theologically abstract. Wherever this statement sits with you, I want to spend a little time unpacking it because (1) if relationship is the foundation of faith, we need to make sure this is concrete (pun intended) and (2) I think we struggle here.
Studies are showing that every single Sunday, both the folks that refuse to darken the door of a church AND the ones sitting in the pews are unsure as to what this Christianity thing is all about. When asked what the basic premise of Christianity is, you get varied answers of course, but the bulk majority revolve around trying to be a good person, following rules, meeting standards, and “being religious.” Sadly, these beliefs do not at all align with the Christ that Christianity was centered on. In fact, our attempts to follow rules for the sake of seeming religious flies in the face of the very God we say we worship.
During Jesus’ short ministry here on earth, He preached a new (and controversial) message that turned religion upside down and inside out and yet fulfilled the old religious laws and prophesies and made clear what God’s will was for us. In Matthew 22:37-39, He tells us that, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself.”
There is no mention of rules or religiosity in this statement, nor is there the issuance of a standard we must meet to please God (in fact, the rest of this particular sermon shows us just how ridiculously inadequate our attempts to meet said standard really would prove.) Essentially, Jesus came to tell us that we have it all wrong: God isn’t interested in religion; He created us for relationship. And He is much less concerned about our actions and works than our hearts and motives.
You were created in God’s image and reconciled to him through his Son for the purpose of loving him and loving others.
As my brother-in-law would say, “This is not rocket surgery.” 🙂
God’s message is simple and clear. Yet somehow, we have spun this around and around and overcomplicated it to the point of misunderstanding who He is and what He wants from us. And because of that, we cannot begin to understand who we are in him and what our purpose is.
We must be rooted in the truth of who God is through a personal relationship with him in order to grow spiritually and flourish.
By looking within ourselves, around in church culture, and even in the Bible at faithful greats like Abraham, Moses and David, we see story after story of folks struggling in keep close relationship with the Lord. Staying rooted in the goodness and sovereignty of God is no easy thing, even for the spiritual giants. History and experience tells us that even the strongest believers have a tendency to wander and wane, which is why scripture gives us verse after verse admonishing us to love the Lord and stay tethered to truth.
So next, we will explore the 6 foundational truths – the who what when where how and why – of a deeply rooted relationship with God. We will muddle through Jesus’ bold statements and convicting challenges together so that we can better live out Colossians 2:6-7 and “Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.”