One of the favorite fruit trees in our back yard WAS a Golden Delicious Apple tree. It had a nice shape and it has steadily grown for years. Most important it bore great fruit year after year, but something happened this year. In spring it blossomed and the leaves were bright green, but the apple buds started to drop off and the leaves turned yellow and then to brown and started to drop off. When I pulled it out of the ground, I realized the problem. It was what I had suspected. Years ago when I planted the tree I put it right on top of a 36 inch galvanized irrigation pipe. The pipe supplies the water for the pressurized irrigation system in our subdivision. The roots had no place to go. The pipe has a life expectancy of 25 years before it totally rusts out and we are at year 24. So I also suspect that the tree had too much water. The roots were pretty rotten. It was a hard lesson. There are several other plants that are planted on that side of the yard that will need to be transplanted or replaced.
Roots are important! When you think of “your roots,” what comes to mind? I appreciate all the men at the Men’s Breakfasts who share their story. John Biar spoke at the last breakfast about his roots and heritage. When most of us look back, there are some things about our roots that are not pleasant to think about. I talked with one of our members this past week and we shared some things of our past where we would have liked to do things differently. You can’t undo the past, but you can know that God has forgiven you and you also need to forgive yourself.
We also need to remember the positive things about our roots. At the breakfast John mentioned again and again the Master’s Plan. When I look back there are so many things that have shaped who I am today. My parents, grandparents, teachers, and other mentors and guides were not perfect, but they did what they thought was best for me and others they guided. Some of the ones who are most memorable are the ones who challenged me and even pushed me to try and do things which I had never done before – my dad, coaches, people I’ve worked for, teachers, my God fathers, fellow pastors, and whole lot of people where I have served as pastor. I learned affirmation is so important. When I was in seminary, I worked in a mail room and print shop for a man named Jim. He taught me how to operate all the machines and devices we used, and I thought I was such a poor and slow learner. He continued to affirm and guide me. I have tried to follow his example of affirmation because it was so important to me.
What about your spiritual formation? How are we doing when it comes to being spiritually rooted? One of my favorite scriptures that deals with this aspect of the Christian life if Colossians 2:6-7 “Therefore as you have received Jesus Christ as Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”
What the Holy Spirit expresses through Paul clearly defines specific goals in spiritual formation and what it means to be firmly rooted in our relationship with Jesus Christ. Most, if not all of you, who are reading this know what it means to receive Jesus as Lord and Savior. We know that we are sinners and we can’t make things right with God in our own power. God has resolved our problem. He sent Jesus to pay for sin, forgive us, and promised us the gift of life eternal. He also empowers us. That’s what Paul is talking about. We need to be deeply rooted in Him, not with shallow or overly watered roots like my apple tree. Too much water in our spiritual lives might be like reading and studying the Bible and knowing what it says, but not doing anything about it. Roots need to grow deep to strengthen us. The other metaphor is from construction. We need to be built up in our relationship with Christ. That means having a firm and enduring foundation. That means to grow in our knowledge of what the Bible says, having a regular devotional life, being around other Christians for mutual encouragement, and applying what we know to real life. Bottom line: LIVING AND SHARING OUR FAITH! The result should be that we will abound in thanksgiving. It is like that hymn that so many of you love to sing: “How Great is Our God.” He truly is. The Apostle Paul recognized this, in spite of all the tough stuff in his life. We should have the same conviction, but we also need to follow his prescription.
Let’s grow in Him together,