The following is a the first of three meditations given by Bishop Morales during the Clergy Retreat in Wisconsin last week. The next two meditations (Missional and Compassionate) will follow in the next two newsletters.
Dear brothers and sisters,
“As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.”
Rooted in Christ:
Those who are deeply rooted will withstand the storms of life. They are stable. They are like the wise man that built his house on a rock. They are not shaken by the storms of life. They are not “tossed to and from and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting” (Ephesians 4:14).
Rooted people have a deep source of spiritual nourishment which continually feeds them. They are like a tree, planted by the streams of water which bears its fruit in season (Psalm 1). They are continually nourished.
Jesus said, “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:10–11). The happiest people on the planet are people who are rooted in Christ. They experience the joy that comes from God.
Rooted plants are fruit-bearing plants. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Jesus didn’t say we would be even more fruitful if we abide in Christ. He said that without Christ we can do nothing. Rooted in Christ, we will bear much fruit. It is an all or nothing deal. Those who are rooted in Christ will experience fruitfulness.
There is peace in knowing that your roots go down deep. There is peace in knowing you can withstand every drought and storm. “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). The Bible describes it as a peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4.6, 7). You will have a sense of peace.
God’s will for every believer is that you have absolute confidence in your salvation. God wants you to know that you will go to Heaven when you die. Rooted people know. They don’t just hope; they know. They will have assurance of their salvation.
You can’t grow up unless your roots go down. Only rooted people grow. “That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:17–19). You will experience spiritual growth.
When our roots go down deep, we discover why God put us here. We discover that “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). We discover what good works God has prepared in advance for us to do. There is nothing like living life on purpose. Only rooted people know this joy.
The Scriptures warn us of what happens to those who are not deeply rooted in Christ. Notice what Jesus taught about this subject: “They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away” (Luke 8:13). In what Jesus taught about being rooted in the truth we find that there are those who start the journey in Christ in a good way. We find they receive the truth with joy. Yet, the truth is not rooted in them deeply enough. Thus, when temptation arises, they fall away.
The lesson above, which was taught by Christ in the “Parable of the Sower”, shows us the importance of being deeply rooted in the word of our Lord. We all know that falling away from Christ is a serious threat and can happen to any one of us (I Corinthians 9:24-27, I Corinthians 10:12, Galatians 1:6-9, Galatians 3:1, Galatians 5:4, Galatians 5:7-9, I Timothy 4:1, Hebrews 3:12-13, Hebrews 6:4-6, Hebrews 10:26-31; 38, II Peter 2:20-22, and Revelation 2:1-7). So, why wouldn’t all of us want to be deeply rooted to make apostasy less and less likely to occur to any of us?
We’re supposed to have Christ in our hearts and be rooted and grounded in love (Ephesians 3:17). If we’re not rooted, we will find that we’ll just wither away (Matthew 13:5-6). Thus, we have to desire the truth and grow strong in Christ (I Peter 2:1-2). We have to be rooted and built up in Christ through being taught the truth (Colossians 2:7). This process is not an overnight process either. The process of being rooted, grounded, and settled in Christ requires a continual work for each one of us to do. Notice the inspired words of the Apostle Paul: “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister” (Colossians 1:21-23).
As we just read, our being rooted and grounded in Christ keeps us settled. The word translated as “settled” is from the Greek word “hedraios.” This word means: “firm, unmovable, steadfast”. Rather than being tossed to and fro (Ephesians 4:14), we’re supposed to be settled [firm, unmovable, steadfast]. Notice these Scriptures: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord… But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end… For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end… Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walk about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world” (I Corinthians 15:58, Hebrews 3:6, Hebrews 3:14, and I Peter 5:8-9).
Anyone who begins the journey in Christ must be secured firmly by roots or they’ll fall away. That has been made clear Scripturally. What we also need to understand is that we’re talking about falling away, not just someone who forgets to study his or her Bible one afternoon. We’re talking about someone who just forgets about the Lord and the commitment they’ve made to Him.
I cannot make this point any better than the Psalmist did. Thus, let’s see what inspiration has recorded on this point: “Blessed are they that keep judgment, and he that does righteousness at all times. Remember me, O LORD, with the favor that You barest unto Your people: O visit me with Your salvation; That I may see the good of Your chosen, that I may rejoice in the gladness of Your nation, that I may glory with Your inheritance. We have sinned with our fathers, we have committed iniquity, we have done wickedly. Our fathers understood not their wonders in Egypt; they remembered not the multitude of Your mercies; but provoked him at the sea, even at the Red sea. Nevertheless, he saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make his mighty power to be known. He rebuked the Red sea also, and it was dried up: so he led them through the depths, as through the wilderness. And he saved them from the hand of him that hated them, and redeemed them from the hand of the enemy. And the waters covered their enemies: there was not one of them left. Then believed they his words; they sang his praise. They soon forgot his works; they waited not for his counsel: But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert” (Psalms 106:3-14).
It’s easy to look back on the Israelites and pick at how soon they forgot the works of our Lord. Now, it’s time for each of us to use this study for ourselves. Ask yourself some questions like these: Am I rooted enough not to allow my family to stand between the Lord and me (Matthew 10:34-37)? Am I rooted enough not to allow my worldly friendships to stand between the Lord and me (Proverbs 1:10 and I Peter 4:1-5)? Am I rooted enough not to allow false doctrine to be taught and thereby ruin my relationship with the Lord (Proverbs 28:4, Romans 16:17-18, and I Timothy 1:3-7)? Am I rooted enough not to “fall for” the wrong person because that guy or girl is “hot” (Proverbs 6:23-35, Proverbs 7:6-27, and Matthew 5:27-28)? Am I rooted enough not to follow the wrong leaders (Isaiah 3:12, Isaiah 9:16, Matthew 15:14, and III John 9-11)? Here’s the point: being rooted and grounded really comes down to always having your affections above (Colossians 3:1-4)!
Brethren, let’s be rooted so deeply that nothing can uproot us from the Lord (Proverbs 12:3).
In Christ Jesus,
Bp. J. A. Morales, OSB, DD