Lately I've been thinking about the difference between being a Christian, and being rooted in Christ. It might sound the same, but I'm afraid in my own life, and in people I know and love, it's just not. The line is so thin and it takes so much sacrifice to dig it up and re-draw it, day after day after day.
Do you remember the time when you first met Him? When halfway through the day, you'd remember Him and smile? Or remember Him and unfurl your brow? I had moments like that for years after He grabbed my heart. All of a sudden, I'd remember that I had been saved - in a literal and exciting way, not a figurative-back-woods-revival sort of way (though I've got nothing against a good, legit back-woods revival). And in those days, He is a breath of fresh air and an encouragement. And let me tell you, if you don't know what I'm talking about - if you haven't caught yourself in a downward spiral and remembered the Cross in thankfulness... if you haven't held your breath in anxiety and then sighed in reluctant resolve to let Him work it out... if you haven't wondered for a split second if there's more, and then remembered that THERE IS, so much more - let's talk. Call me or a call a friend or find a good church and experience what I'm talking about.
But what about after that, ya'll? What about the rest of us, that maybe realized a few years ago or months ago or hours ago that He is in fact real, He does in fact save, and He is in fact good. Here's the danger. I think the danger, for me - for all of us, is to go on years like that. To let Him clean up hard moments, or to lean into Him on hard days, or to thank Him after good ones. To build families, friendships, life plans, ministries, marriages, and philosophies on our own thoughts, only they are painted on the outside to resemble something like Him. To program all that we are and all that we've done, and to be rooted in nothing but our own ideas and desires. That is terrifying.
Terrifying and all too easy.
Colossians 2:6&7 says, "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". Beth Moore has this sweet trick she uses where she says the opposite of scripture to help you understand what it says. So here is the opposite of this passage for me. Maybe the actual total opposite of that goes something like this: "Because you rejected Christ Jesus the Lord, walk on your own, rooted in nothing and never growing, establish yourself however you can, exactly opposite of how the Word told you to, and be dejected and frustrated all of your days because you absolutely cannot save or grow yourself". Is that too blunt? Maybe. And maybe we want to check out if we didn't reject Him. Because we think it doesn't apply to us. And maybe it doesn't, Praise God!
But. We're not off the hook.
Because back in the middle ground, the dangerous place for those of us who believe: I think the neutral Christanese version of this verse that is still totally opposite of truth is what is really frightening: "Because you received Christ Jesus, and walked forward knowing He was Lord - without totally letting Him take over your life, because come on - it's your life, walk forward with what you think is best. Occasionally ask Him, ask for prayer from other believers, but search out your own goals and desires. Spend a lot of time figuring out who you are, rather than letting Him mess you up for His purposes, and build yourself up with bits and pieces of His truth that seem best for you. Establish yourself, as a person of faith, just like everyone else does. Be thankful when things go your way, and be a little bitter and hard-hearted with Him when they don't".
I could weep a river over how familiar that sounds. Over how my heart has gone along with that sort of rooting, or non-rooting. Over how I've heard other believers claim that to be the gospel. Over years I've spent, no - years I've wasted, trying to make Christ a part of my story - rather than being rooted and built up in Him. Rather than being utterly transformed and unashamedly throwing off all that is about my own desires or glory or comfort, for the sake of being known only as one of His.
Jessi's life, with her desires and longings and thoughts and need for comfort and stability and encouragement and theories, but painted on the outside to look like it could possibly belong to Christ - that life will no longer do for me. I'm praying that He will mess me up and convict me so entirely, that I would be willing to burn any living piece of me that is not rooted deeply in Him. I'm praying that the Holy Spirit would move and would not quit until you look on this life it is utterly unrecognizable. In the most beautiful way possible.
* The picture above is of my beautiful friend Marilee's backyard. Today is Mare's birthday. She is lovely, her backyard is lovely, and she is rooted firmly in Christ.
Mare, I love you & can't wait to see you in a few weeks.