A few days ago a message landed in my inbox with this question – How does one know he’s deeply rooted in Christ? I thought that it was an excellent, thought provoking, soul prodding question. How do we know that we’re rooting our life in Christ and not our selfish desires, religious duty, or just satisfying the need to belong?
Roots have two basic functions, they collect and transport water and nutrients for the rest of the plant and they provide stability. We see this demonstrated in the Parable of the Sower. On the first soil, the seed could not even grow, its roots could not penetrate the hard compacted ground. The seed took root and even thrived in the shallow rocky ground until the harsh sunlight of temptation, affliction, and persecution caused it to dry up. The third seed found root but competition from weeds and thistles caused it to be unfruitful. The final seed rooted deeply, grew tall, and produced a crop. (Luke 8:4-15, Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23)
Roots provide stability. Jesus identified three things (combining the two accounts in Matthew and Luke) that seek to blow us over; temptation, affliction, and persecution. We all at times face these storms our lives. Times when we are enticed to entertain sin for a season. Storms of pain, illness, and disease that can turn our hearts away from Jesus. At its worst persecution forces one to choose between life and Christ. However, even soft persecution forces a choice between submission to something or someone other than Christ and submission to Jesus. In the Parable of the Sower, the plant with shallow roots withered before the onslaught of temptation, affliction, and persecution. But hidden in the parable is this observation, the fourth seed suffered the same hot sun and thrived because of its deep roots. Therefore, our response to times of temptation, affliction, and persecution are indicators of how deeply rooted we are with Jesus Christ.
Roots also provide nutrients so the plant can grow and produce fruit. Plants do not grow to produce shade, flowers, or wood. They grow to produce fruit; to reproduce after their own kind. Likewise, we are growing in Christ to produce a harvest of righteousness. One excellent indicator is the Fruit of the Spirit – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22–23, NASB95) All the fruit of the Spirit are to be growing in our lives. We enjoy the benefits of having them in our lives but they should also abundantly overflow to all that are in our world. Another harvest of righteousness is that of rescuing souls from darkness to light. Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” (Luke 10:2, NASB95) For the purposes of this article, we don’t need to look at how we do this. Two questions need to be considered instead – Does the fruit of our life encourage Christ’s new life in others regardless of where they are on their journey? Or, is our life so choked with the worries, cares, and selfish desires of this world that we have no fruit?
Jesus declared in John “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4–5, NASB95) We are to be “rooted” in Christ in the same way that a branch is completely connected to a vine; drawing from Christ the same way a branch draws stability, moisture, and nutrients from its vine. So, how does one know that they are rooted in Christ? Do we stay anchored in Christ when storms of temptation, affliction, and persecution blow against our faith? Is the fruit of the Spirit abundantly growing in our lives? Do we labor in the harvest field God has set before us?