What is my life rooted in?
It seems I have been asking myself this question quite a lot lately after writing Roots & Prunes. So for the last few days I’ve been doing a bit of digging to see what lies beneath the surface of my own heart. Some call it “soul searching.” I call it gardening.
I began studying the word “root” and where/how it is used in the Bible. It turns out that it is used both in the Old and New Testaments quite frequently (66 times to be exact).
As I dug a little bit deeper into the different words used for “root” in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, I stumbled across one word that caught my attention. The Greek word “Rhizoō” is a word that means to render firm, to fix, to establish, to cause a person or a thing to be thoroughly grounded.* When I read that definition, it sounded like it could be interesting. So I kept digging.
I discovered that Rhizoō is actually only used twice in the New Testament. One of those times is in Ephesians 3:17, which is a part of a prayer by the apostle Paul to the Ephesians. He prays that they would be “rooted and established in love.” Being rooted and established in love sounded fun, so I figured that it was a good place to start in this journey to learn more of what it means to be rooted in Christ and how to actually live that out.
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:14-19)
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
When I first read this I thought to myself, this sounds cool and all, but… what does it actually mean?
Let’s break it down. When we take the English words back to the Greek, Paul is praying that out of the abundance of God’s saving grace, God himself would strengthen the Ephesians with power. But it’s not just any power he is talking about. He is talking specifically about moral power, or the power to live morally excellent lives. In other words, out of God’s abundant grace for us, we are strengthened through the Holy Spirit living in us to live excellently. God doesn’t just tell us to live a certain way. He gives us the grace and the strength to then go do it.
Next sentence. Here Paul is praying that the Ephesians would be rooted and established in love. In other words, he prays that they would be thoroughly grounded in love. But what kind of love is he talking about? The word that is used here is “agape,” which refers specifically in this verse to Christ’s love for his people. In other words, it begins with being. Rootedness begins with being in Christ’s love.
It is from the place of being rooted in Christ’s love that Paul prays that the Ephesians will be able to come to understand how wide and long and high and deep is that love. The further rooted we become in Christ’s love, the more we realize that it just keeps going. The width, length, height and depth of Christ’s love for us is immeasurable and beyond our ability to fully comprehend.
Lastly, Paul prays that the Ephesians will be filled up, filled to full, a body wholly filled and flooded by God.
HOW DOES IT LOOK?
What does it look like to be firmly planted in agape love? What does it look like to build our lives on that foundation and allow that understanding to influence the decisions we make in life?
I once heard someone put it this way: “Everything we do must flow from an overflow of intimacy with the Lord.” Wow. All of our sustenance and who we are at the very deepest parts of our hearts must find its source first and foremost in Christ’s love. That love that Christ has for us, must be the foundation of all that we are and all that we do. It is through his grace, his Spirit and his love that we will be able to live out the lives that he has invited us into.
It is interesting to see that the fruit of our lives is an outward expression of what we are grounded in. There’s a parable Jesus told his disciples of the seed planted in various kinds of terrain. (Luke 8) Some seeds were planted in rocky soil, but when the plant grew it withered because it lacked moisture. Likewise, believers who received the Word of God with joy when they first hear it, but develop no roots in the love of Christ will fall away during seasons of testing. No roots, means no fruit. It is not enough just to know conceptually that God loves us. Our lives must grow roots into that reality and allow that truth to become the source of life for all that we do.
What would it look like if we really relied on God’s grace and if we truly believed that Christ loves us and gave us his Holy Spirit to empower us to live the lives he has invited us to live? How would that change things? How would being rooted in Christ’s love change the way we see ourselves when we look in the mirror? How would being rooted in Christ’s love change the way we interact with others? How would being rooted in Christ’s love change the way we faced life’s most difficult decisions? My guess is that it would change things immensely and I will be the first to admit that I want that. I want to be rooted first and foremost in love.
Today, my prayer for all of us is that by God’s abundant grace, he will strengthen us to live excellently with the power to live that way through the Holy Spirit in us. I pray that Christ will dwell in our hearts, having influence over the way we live. I pray that we are a people who are thoroughly grounded and planted, fixed in agape love, the immeasurable love that Christ has for each one of us. I pray that we will come to understand the width, length, height, and depth of that love and that we will be completely filled and flooded by God.