We want the outcome of a big and impressive faith without first putting in the effort of rootedness to help that fruit grow in our lives. The problem is that you can’t have the fruit without the root.
A while ago I preached a series on the images in scripture of trees and plants that depict life and growth. We spent time talking about the importance of rootedness in faith as the only way to move toward fruitfulness. You can’t have the second without working on the first.
Rootedness isn’t the fun part though. Fruit is the fun part. Big, juicy, beautiful, delicious fruit is what we all want, but we don’t want to go about the work of rootedness to get it. We want the results without the effort, kind of like how I want a beach body without giving up the junk food. We want the outcome of a big and impressive faith without first putting in the effort of rootedness to help that fruit grow in our lives. The problem is that you can’t have the fruit without the root.
Roots come down to two things, really. Probably you can come up with more if you really try, but I came up with two things. First, we have to be rooted in our connection with God. Jesus talked about the importance of this connection in John 15 when he told the disciples, “I am the vine, you are the branches.” He told them that in order to bear fruit that they needed to stay connected to the vine—Him. They needed that connection in order to continue to grow, to remain strong, and ultimately to bear much fruit.
Being rooted in that connection with God means to build into that relationship; to spend the time necessary to grow in connection with God. Just as we invest in our relationships with others when we want that to grow, we need to do the same with our connection with God. We can’t expect that relationship to be rooted if we don’t put in the effort and spend the necessary time. We need to be rooted in that way.
Second, we have to be rooted in the words, teachings, and ideals of Jesus. The whole point of the Christian faith is to follow Jesus and be shaped more and more in the image of Jesus. Disciples (that sounds daunting in today’s world) of a rabbi were supposed to be as close to a carbon copy of the rabbi as possible, which in Jesus’ time meant walking, talking, teaching, eating, etc. exactly like Jesus. How else can we consider ourselves to be followers of Jesus without being rooted in the words, teachings, and ideals of Jesus?
Realistically this means that we need to get familiar with those very things. Too often we listen to the latest celebrity Christian writer, pastor, spokesperson, or even political figure to discern what Jesus might think or say on a given topic. The sad part is that we do that rather than looking more deeply into what Jesus actually DID say (or not say) on a given topic. We have to be rooted deeply in the words, teachings, and ideals of the One we follow rather than the commentary that others are putting out there.
Lastly (I know I said two things) we need to acknowledge the role of God’s Spirit in this process. Fortunately/Unfortunately we can’t do this all on our own. We can do our part in putting down roots, but it’s actually God’s work in us through the Spirit that brings forth the fruit. Just like the flowers on your porch—you can water, nourish, and give it exposure to sunlight but you can’t make the flowers grow. You do the work that you can do, and God is going to do the work that God does.
Be deeply rooted and God will bring the fruits.
Husband, father, pastor, and Steelers fan. Lover of coffee, dogs, and bourbon.