By guest author Ben Hoerr – Lead Pastor at Vineyard Church Peoria
One pleasure of living in the Midwestern United States during fall is experiencing the beauty of the leaves turning colors. Whether it’s a brilliant yellow ginko, a fiery orange black gum, or a burnt red maple, the colors inspire and move us. But we seldom stop to consider the lowly roots of all those trees. Every single tree – and woody ornamental, or evergreen, or shrub for that matter – depends on its roots to survive and thrive.
Unseen and largely forgotten, the root system is actually what performs many of the trees vital and life-giving functions. Roots absorb and transport water, oxygen, and essential minerals from the soil to the rest of the tree. Roots provide an anchor for the portion of the tree above ground. And in winter, roots are a store-house for essential food reserves needed by the tree to produce spring foliage.
In this series on the ABCs of faith, we’ve been looking at its many facets. Did you know that faith is described in the Bible as “rooted,” “firm,” and “strong”? Like the root system is to the tree, so our faith is to our life as a follower of Jesus. Let’s read Colossians 2:5-7 (NLT): “For though I am far away from you, my heart is with you. And I rejoice that you are living as you should and that your faith in Christ is strong. 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.”
In this passage to the church in Colosse, the Apostle Paul was commending the believers for having strong faith. He points out that their faith had grown strong due to a number of contributing factors. First, they had responded to the Gospel by placing their trust in Jesus to forgive their sins and make them new. They had continued to follow Jesus in obedience. Furthermore, they had built their lives on Jesus – that is, his values, his way of thinking, speaking, and acting. Lastly, they were overflowing with thankfulness. The Apostle Paul encourages a continuation of these activities with the expression, “Let your roots go down into him.”
You see, our faith will grow strong and firm if we let our roots go down into him today. What might that look like? First, we continue to follow Jesus in obedience, living as he desires us to live. Our decisions, thoughts, and actions are informed, shaped, and guided by the holy scriptures, the indwelling Holy Spirit, and the community of saints gathered as a local church of which we are a vital member. Like the roots that draw nourishment from the soil and transport them to the stems and leaves, we draw strength, wisdom, and power for life as we follow Jesus by obeying the scriptures, by listening to the indwelling Holy Spirit, and by being a vital part of a local church.
Second, we build our lives on him. Jesus invites us to trust him for all we need – love, security, significance, and provision. Many other false foundations compete for this place in our life, whether it be education, material possessions, money, fame, fitness, or worldly success. But faith grows strong only when it has the right foundation – trusting in the person of the resurrected, living Jesus. Like the roots of a tree, Jesus provides the anchor for our lives.
Third, we overflow with thankfulness. Marinating each day with an appreciation for who Jesus is, what he has done, and what he is doing enables us to be a grateful person. This attitude of gratitude functions like the roots of the tree that store up energy reserves – it gives us the ability to humbly and sincerely live each day with a hopeful, joyful sense of purpose, significance, and security.
When we let our roots grow down into Jesus in these ways, we can fully expect that our faith will grow strong and stand firm.