large birch tree roots with moss growing over the base

Rooted and Reaching

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. –Colossians 2:6-7

The imagery of being deeply rooted in something life-giving and life-affirming is a powerful one. We see it in Psalm 1:

“They are like trees
planted by streams of water
which yield their fruit in its season,
and their leaves do not wither.”

and in the words of Isaiah (in Isaiah 37:31 and repeated in 2 Kings 19:30):

“The surviving remnant of the house of Judah shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward.”

If you do a quick word search for “root” in Bible Gateway, or the Bible app on your phone, you will see the importance of a people rooted in God, and what happens when those roots are shallow or weak. This doesn’t include all the references to being planted, grafted to vines, or good and poor soil.

For some, the idea of “putting down roots” connotes a loss of freedom, and the carefree joy associated with rootless freedom. Madeleine L’Engle takes on this idea in the second book of her Wrinkle in Time trilogy, A Wind in the Door. A young one is called to take root, and join the song of the universe, but is being tempted to disrupt this cosmic song with the false promise that the unrooted life is free and more joyful and wild than the rooted life. Suffice it to say that what this youngster discovers upon being rooted is a greater freedom. Instead of just the right-here-right-now fun, being rooted helps you create the very song being sung, traveling among and with the stars.

We find the same: without roots, there is only the fun and adventure of the right-here-right-now. In joining with something meaningful, life-giving and bigger than ourselves, we actually become a part of that something bigger, part of the giving and sharing of life, too. We do not just gain by finding meaning for our lives in this larger, eternal community, but we are actually essential to creating it and making it all work.

God has called us into a cosmic adventure. We see in Jesus the Christ one who is fully rooted in God’s love and being and doing – yet as a human just like us. We see the possibility of what life can be when we fully root ourselves in God’s love and being and doing as well. We see what fruit it can produce, and how that fruit gives life and makes a difference in the world.

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