The Mystery Revealed, Christ is Enough, so Walk in Newness of Life
The fall season has officially descended upon us. The mornings are chillier, the days are shorter, and the delicious smells of mulling spices, hot apple cider, and fresh apple pie fill the kitchen. However, one of the most distinct marks of the season is the vibrant fall colors that transform ordinary maple and other deciduous trees into canopies of splendor.
As the solid hardwoods take on their autumn finery and dot the landscape with their beauty and grandeur, they take on a sense of timelessness, for they have remained throughout the seasons, remaining unmoved by winter’s cold, spring’s rain, and summer’s sunshine. Many deciduous trees, like maple trees for example, can live for over 200 years unmoved and solid. Why? Because these hardy veterans of the forest have an extensive root system that has grounded and upheld them in a constantly shifting and changing world.
Likewise, throughout Scripture we have been commanded to become like a strong, flourishing tree, and in Colossians 2 Paul exhorts us to be firmly rooted in Christ.
“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”
The young Colossae Christians had received Jesus Christ as Lord, but they still needed to grow in their faith. The seeds of faith had taken root in their hearts, but it had yet to become firmly planted and unmovable. This is why they were easily swayed by the falsehoods of the Gnostics, Judaizers, and other false doctrines of the time. So Paul exhorted them to be firmly rooted in Christ, to walk in Him, be built up in Him, and be solidly established in the faith.
Walk the Talk
It’s not enough to just receive Christ and declare Him Lord; we must also walk in Him. Our lives must reflect what we believe. Words of devotion, commitment, acceptance, and agreement are not enough. Anyone can spout eloquent words, but few can genuinely walk the talk unless they firmly believe what they profess. But how do we walk in Christ? How do we go from receiving and believing the gospel to walking in our Lord Jesus Christ? What are the steps from point A to point B?
Notice the order in which Paul puts the verbs in Colossians 2:7 after his exhortation to walk in Him: rooted, built up, established. These verbs were not placed at random, they are a sequence. In order to walk in Jesus, we must first be rooted then built up. Once these two things have occurred, we are finally established in the faith.
This is an important aspect of the Christian life. Our growth and spiritual maturity is built upon the strength of our rooting and faith in Christ.
As a hardwood tree grows up, becoming taller and taller each year, it also grows down, becoming more firmly rooted so that it will not topple. Similarly, we must be growing downward as we grow in the faith, further rooting ourselves in Christ. The more we learn about Christ—who He is, His sacrifice, and what He’s done for us—the more firmly and solidly our faith will take root.
And it is imperative that our faith be firmly rooted. For there are many false teachers, deceivers, and enemies of the truth that are and will seek to lead us astray with eloquent arguments and lofty sounding doctrines. However, if our faith is firmly rooted in Christ, then we will not be deceived by false teachings and doctrines.
As Warren Wiersbe notes in his commentary on Colossians, the tense of the Greek word for rooted has the meaning of “once and for all having been rooted.” Just as a tree is only rooted once, we also are in need of only one rooting which Christ started when we accepted Him as Lord. Nevertheless, we still need to grow in our rooting and make it stronger so that it may firmly hold us upright in this turbulent, volatile, ever-changing world we live in.
Once a newly planted seed sinks its roots into the rich earth beneath it, it immediately begins to grow upward. First a tender shoot appears, then before you know it, there’s a new tree where there was once only a tiny seed. Likewise, after we have been rooted in the Lord, we must grow. Our lives should continually be transformed so that we are more and more like the Savior we profess. We must be built up in the Lord, growing in our knowledge and love for Him, and excelling our walk with Him.
The Christian life requires and is marked by growth. And our outward growth continues in direct proportion with the depth of and strength of our rooting. So our rooting in Christ and our growth in Christ are directly related. We cannot have one without the other. Growth will not happen without a firm rooting, and a firm and expansive rooting will not be required unless we grow. We desperately need both in our Christian life.
The Final Goal
Once we possess both a firm rooting and a continued growth in the Lord, then and only then, are we established in the faith. And this is where God wants us to be. He wants us “established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel.” (Colossians 1:23, NIV 84)
Are you rooted in Christ? Are you growing in Him? Are you established in the faith?
It’s not too late! The first step is to dig your roots down deep into the truth of the gospel and grab hold of the One who is the anchor of our soul, Jesus Christ. So if you have yet to be solidly established in your faith, take this first step and watch as the spiritual tree of your heart begins to grow.
“He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”