July 24, 2016
Text: Genesis 18:20-32
RootedWe pray- make us holy, set apart- living for you- but how does God do that? Pray.Paul began his letter to the Colossians by telling them how much he loved them and was prayingfor them and rejoiced in his suffering for their sake. He went on to remind them who Jesus is thatthey have learned to trust and obey- and that Christ is the hope of glory.Having laid those foundational truths, he continues with today’s text: “As you therefore havereceived Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him andestablished in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”Lutherans as a whole, do not use the word “receive the Lord” very often- and I think that is ashame because at the core of Lutheran confessions and doctrine is the truth that our salvation is agift from God that we receive by grace- that our sanctification is a gift from God that we receiveby grace, and in fact, all we have is a gift of God to us that we receive from Him by grace. Thereis nothing we have that we have not received from God. Faith alone, grace alone, Christ alone.“in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” the bible says. To be a Christian, to be afollower of Jesus, means to receive all that God is and has to offer through his son, Jesus Christ.Too often, we have the tendency to pick and choose “ala cart” what fits our wants and agendasand life-styles. But to surrender to Jesus, is to surrender to all He is- his words- hiscommandments as well as his promises- his grace as well as a call to repentance and His call onour lives.Jesus who died on the cross knows our sins and our pain. Jesus who rose triumphantly from thegrave is the same Jesus who is alive and with us today with the power of the resurrection. Thereis no problem that Jesus hasn’t triumphed over, no doubt that His presence will not erase, He isable and willing and Lord of all.Paul says “therefore”- therefore- we should continue living our lives in him. You would think wewouldn’t have to be reminded of that- but we do. Like the Prodigal son, we ask our father forthings- and then we leave home- valuing things/blessing more than living in the presence of ourfather.But still the question remains- why do we wander? That is the question all of us need to ask. It isa question humanity has wrestled with since the garden of Ede. Why did Adam and Eve questionGod? Why did the apostle Paul wrestle with doing what he knew was wrong and not doing whathe knew he should do? Why do you and I pray to God and then go our own way? I believe that is
why Paul is counseling- encouraging, warning us to be watchful- to make sure we continue tolive our lives in him- because it is in our nature to turn away. Maturity takes time.Paul then uses an image that would have been understood. “Be rooted and built up in him,established in the faith”. Webster defines “root” as: “the underground part of a plant that holdsthe plant up, draws water and nourishment; an essential or basic part or core. In music, it is thebasic or fundamental tone of a chord on which the chord is constructed. To become fixed, settled,established.In the seventies, there was a series on tv that caught the attention of a lot of people. It was simplycalled “Roots”. It was the story of a man and who found his identity in his roots- where he andhis family had come from generations ago- . Some people study their family’s genealogy. In thebible, we are tempted to skip over the long ancestral listing of people in the bible- but they areput there for a reason- to know where their roots are. In fact, the whole bible is a story of ourroots- beginning with creation- of God breathing life into us- of God’s faithfulness when wewere unfaithful to Him. It is a love story of how God so loved the world that he was willing tosacrifice his own son so that we might be set free to live in His presence once more. AsChristians, it is imperative we know that our roots are in God Himself who is our creator,redeemer and sanctifier for in Him we find our identity.When a seed is planted in the ground-something amazing happens-it begins to grow. In the sameway, when God’s word is planted in our hearts, it too begins to grow.As the seed begins to grow,it sends out a sprout that will emerge into the sunshine for all to see. But at the same time,something just as important is happening that we cannot see. A root has emerged that will godeep into the soil to anchor the plant and gather nutrients and water for growth. There cannot belife or growth without both a shoot and a root.In the parable of the sower and the seed-Jesus explained that seed sown on rocky ground is like aperson who receives the word with joy and endures for a while, but when persecution ortribulation comes on account of the word, they immediately fall away because they have no root.How does a root grow? If you would observe a root as it grows, it would appear that the root hasa mind of it’s own- growing toward water and nutrients. But in reality, it only appears to growtowards water and nutrients because that is the only place it can grow. It will not grow into dry,infertile soil.In the same way, our spiritual roots can only grow in the presence of God’s spirit. Only Godgives the growth. We cannot grow apart from God. But unlike plants, we can enable andencourage spiritual growth by immersing ourselves in God’s word, spending time inconversation with God- and receiving his blessings.To be rooted in God’s word is to be established and anchored in Christ God’s truth- so that whenthe storms of life come and philosophies and world opinions threaten to sway us, we will remainsecure and firm in our relationship with Jesus.
Our spiritual life can be threatened by the obvious much like our crops in the field. When theweather service alerts us to the dangers of wind and hail and tornadoes, we watch the skies andthe radar and keep an ear to the weather station. And when we are threatened by trials andpersecutions for our faith- we are put on alert and watchful.But there are other subtle dangers to the health of our faith that can go undetected- or notrecognize them as a danger.Farmers spray weeds with herbicide. The plant absorbs the chemical- and depending on the modeof action of the active ingredient, the herbicide disrupts the metabolism of the plant, killing itfrom within.In our Christian faith, there are things in the world that can disrupt the life and health of ourfaith, and kill our assurance and joy from within. Living in the world, we can unintentionallybegin to absorb the sins of the world- things that may appear innocent at first, but over time, willhave a toxic affect and kill our sense of right and wrong and joy of God over time. We need to beon alert at all time.Jesus who was without sin, prayed often- continually. And when the disciples saw Jesus praying-they wanted to know how to pray like Jesus prayed- and so they asked him to teach them.Being rooted in Christ, all we need can be found in Jesus. We should then go to God and askwith expectation, seek with the assurance that He will find us, knock- and fully expect that thedoor will be opened and be invited in.The gospel of John tells us: “to all who received Him, who believed in his name, he gave powerto become children of God; who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of thewill of man, but of God.” We have been received by God and made his children by grace throughfaith.Trusting God with our whole being, we come alive- and the sprout and root emerges and a life ofgrowth begins.I want to leave you with the words of Peter: “but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lordand Savior Jesus Christ- to him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity.”May we grow- with our roots firmly planted deep in God’s word and the presence of His loveand grace. In Jesus name- Amen.