Rooted in Christ
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)
My mother had two green thumbs. She could plant any seed, water it and a plant would grow. She said the seed would open to put down roots, and strong roots were the most important part in growing the plant. As the plants grew, my mother would “repot” them because the roots would need more room to grow so the plant would stay strong. I came to understand roots were very important for plants to grow and be healthy.
John 15:5 reminds me of what my mother taught me. In this passage, Jesus said we must stay connected to the vine. A vine has the root system the plant needs to grow; like roots are for the vine, Jesus is to us. We must stay connected to Jesus to grow and produce healthy fruit.
We must stay connected to Jesus to grow and produce healthy fruit.
As a Jesus follower, today’s environment can be challenging. Jesus described his followers in Scripture. He said their fruit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Gal. 5:22-23) He said his followers are salt and light to the world. (Matt. 5:13-14)
How do we stay so deeply rooted in Jesus that we practice his ways both in life’s challenging circumstances and in life’s high points? How do we remain conscious of his presence, remember we belong to him and embrace who he says we are?
Here are four steps for becoming and staying deeply rooted:
1. Choose your first love.
Rightly ordering our loves is the first step to being deeply rooted. The first part of the root system is the taproot. It is the root that grows vertically downward and forms the center from which small roots spring. The taproot begins in our heart; it goes deep and establishes the reason we do what we do. The taproot is love. We love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Our greatest love shapes us and determines our path.
Jesus said to the church in Ephesus in Revelation 2:4, “Yet I hold this against you: you have forsaken your first love.” Everything we do and say comes from how our loves are ordered; when God is first, our life and the lives of those around us change. Obedience to God is not about obedience; it’s about loving. Giving is not about giving; it’s about loving. Serving is not about serving; it’s about loving. When our hearts have been penetrated with love for God, the root system will grow exponentially.
2. Practice spiritual disciplines.
They are to us like water to roots. As we accept God’s unconditional love, study Scripture, pray at all times, and practice solitude, we learn more and more about God. We learn to trust God in every situation and our spiritual roots grow deeper. Nothing takes the place of setting time aside to be with God.
3. Lean into suffering.
Desperation for God deepens our roots. Most people who have experienced heart-breaking situations say it was in those times they grew most in their relationship to Jesus. Paul wrote “I want to know Christ – yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.” (Phil. 3:10) In suffering, we come to God with our real selves, we choose to trust him, and hope in him. When we are desperate for God to do something, we learn so much about what we believe about God. Our roots grow deeper when we continue to hope in him in the midst of despair.
4. Gather in community.
A community of like-hearted Jesus-followers is critical to strong roots. We weren’t meant to live a with-God life alone. We must gather with others to study the rich soil of God’s word, expose our shortcomings and practice the teachings of Jesus together. It is in community we learn how to speak truth wrapped in love. We learn to rely on Scripture and not the shifting sands of opinions. A community who gathers around a table and speaks of the things of God causes our roots to grow.
Have you chosen your first love? Are you practicing spiritual disciplines? How are you leaning into suffering? Do you have community? Where do you need Jesus to help you re-establish your roots so you can grow deep in Him?
Phyllis Hennecy Hendry serves as the inaugural President and CEO of Lead Like Jesus, a global leadership ministry headquartered in Spartanburg, SC. She is the co-author of Lead Like Jesus Revisited (Thomas Nelson, 2016) and enjoys spending time with her family, walks on the beach, dark chocolate, and intimate conversations about Jesus.