I wanna take you back to 1989, my first everyday summer job. Landscaping. I was pumped. I had aspirations of cutting grass, building patios, laying down asphalt. That would come eventually…
But first…laying down sod…a massive park need resurfacing…and my first job was…watering the grass.
Here’s where it gets fun…the space was so big that we got to use a fire hose. Imagine a teenager, allowed to use a fire hose and spray wherever he wanted to? Ya. A blast. Both my twin brother and I were on this job. The fire hose did get us in a ‘little’ trouble. By brother lost control of the powerful hose and it veered in the direction of a city inspector. Not good. However, we quickly found out that this inspector was not well liked by the city crew. While she was very upset at this incident, her crew was very happy that we soaked her (by accident). How’s that for a first day on the job?
Our instructions? Don’t stop watering until the water gets through the sod and it’s drenched underneath. Why? That’s the only way for the roots of the grass to attach to the soil. So…I watered, and watered, and watered…
Later in life I’d often see these kinds of projects in new developments and subdivisions and say, ‘they better water their grass well, otherwise it ain’t gonna live.’ Very judgemental, I know. But true.
If you want green grass, water it well, period. The roots have to go deep for the grass to last! (sorry to my environmentalist friends who believe grass is a weed like all others and should be left alone. They have a point)
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Two reasons why we’re talking about grass:
It’s the day we spring time forward, so we’re hoping for sunny days, enjoying the plants, grass, trees with friends and family.
We have arrived at a point in Colossians where we hit the title track. (i,e. title track of a record)
Our title is : ROOTED.
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If there’s one thing that Paul thinks brings this whole letter together, it may be this one word – rooted.
Some writers agree that Colossians 2:6-7 is the centre of this letter. What come before and what comes after, hinges on these 2 verses. I would agree.
Let’s see what they say (2:6-7)
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
Paul starts with really good advice: What you’ve received is to be lived out!
- I receive Jesus
- I live my life in Jesus
- I receive a gift
- I use that gift
- I receive…____________
- I live out…____________
How many times have we wasted a good gift or a blessing? Lost or didn’t use a gift card with a substantial amount of money on it, didn’t put your mom’s (free) food in the freezer as you were told, never wore that great piece of clothing you got for 70%, never got around to learning on the guitar your inherited from your uncle or grandfather or elderly neighbour?
What you have received…you must live out.
The question is, what does living in Christ look like? Glad you asked? Paul gives us 4 words to help us get there: ROOTED / BUILT UP / STRENGTHENED / GRATEFUL.
When we think about this word, we think of depth, digging deep, building foundation, strength under the surface – that is in fact what Paul is getting at.
When we ask, what are your roots? We’re curious about where someone came from, what experiences has shaped them, what kind of family are you from, where did you go to school, grow up, experienced childhood. These make deep impressions in us.
What are the things that are deep within you that have shaped you thus far?
Last week we dove into Col 1:15. Paul’s manifesto about Jesus. Image of the Invisible God. This is who Paul wants us to have roots in. Jesus.
The word used for rooted is exactly what we think it is: a tree with roots deep in the soil.
– It’s in the perfect tense, so there’s a sense permanent strength, solid foundation, something that won’t be moved easily.
The cool thing is that it’s connected to the next word…
This word is in the present tense, indicating a continual process.
Start with deep roots, let them settle, and then you have the foundation to build your life, one step at a time.
I love this metaphor, and especially the balance between roots (down deep) and built up (upward motion). So interconnected.
You can only go as high as you are deep.
You can also only build your life up one step, or one brick at a time. Never worth getting too far ahead of yourself.
It’s not worth worrying about too many steps in front of you. The best way and only way is to do well with the one step you have to take today, the one brick you have to lay today, the rest will take care of itself.
DEEP ROOTS and a well structured BUILDING will lead to a life that can withstand storms, and crisis, and pain, and suffering.
STRENGTHENED (in the faith…)
What is one thing we can count on? Storms. Sickness. Pain. Uncertain circumstances. They will come.
The only way to be ready for this is, as Paul says, to be strengthened in the faith you were taught. (the faith we received)
The 3 words up until now all identify what is going on inside of us. Roots, Foundation, Strength. They are often unseen, but it’s what inspires your actual life, your outside life, your external life.
The funny thing is that we often focus on the external, and don’t pay attention to the internal. That kind of thinking is dangerous and will lead to a fall.
ABOUNDING IN THANKNFULNESS
Paul ends with the external – gratefulness.
That word again? Feels like we can’t get away from this word. (if you’ve been tracking with us this winter, the word thanksgiving keeps popping up)
For good reason – Paul uses it 26 times in his writing.
Thankfulness is the spontaneous response that flows from the deep roots, the strong structure, that our life is built on.
Think of improvisation, in music, in acting, in spoken word. We think to ourselves: How did they come up with that? How did they know what notes to play, words to say, expressions to use?
Here’s how? After hours of work, digging deep into scales, theory, words, lyrics, stories, phrases, etc. Then when the time comes, they can draw on what is deep inside of them.
The sports world lost an icon a few weeks ago. KOBE…an artist on the BB court…top 5 player ever…was the first in the gym, the last to leave, worked harder, often when no one was looking…but then, when on the court, was able to do things others didn’t. He, and other sports legends like him, were able to drap from their depth of practice, routine, structure, developed skill, and come through in the clutch when most needed.
How did they do that? I couldn’t do that?
People say the same thing when they see others being grateful when life stinks: How can they be grateful at a time like this? How can they live with that kind of joy?
Not just any kind of thankfulness, but overflowing with thankfulness, like a river overflowing at it’s banks.
‘Overflowing’ can also be translated as ‘abounding’. More thankfulness, joy, peace, grace, love, than is expected or possible.
Only because we are ROOTED, BUILT UP, STRENGTHENED…in and through JESUS.
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So…where and how are you digging deep?
Where and how are you building your life up?
What steps, bricks, pieces, are you adding, daily, that add to your life of faith? That are making you a person of Jesus who is ABOUNDING in good things?
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We all want the green grass on our side of the fence.
But the only way you can have that is if you take the time to let the roots go deep, build the surroundings conducive to growth, feed it, nurture it, water it, be intentional about it, and then, even during and after a dry season, your grass will pull through and be strong and beautiful and useful.
We will often only know we went deep with our roots, and wise with our building blocks, when life is tough. Then we’ll be glad we dug deep and built strong.
Jesus said (Matt 7:24-27), “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
I think that’s a good place to end.