Every Wednesday we’ll post something having to do with doctrine and purity. Hope it helps.
That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what [is] the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God. - Ephesians 3:17-19
There’s a large flowerpot in my backyard, perched a few yards from my lemon tree, both of which have been there for decades. Both are part of the yard, certainly, but one of them is portable, while the other, deeply grounded with roots running deep, would be very hard to move.
The difference is in the roots. While both pot and tree been there the same amount of time, and both have their own beauty, only one took root, deepening its place of permanence in the yard, while the other stays put but not planted. They share proximity, and they can both rightfully claim to be members of my yard, in that I own them both and they receive the same care on a regular basis: they’re watered, cleaned, and looked after. But one is so well grounded as to be virtually immovable; the other, rootless and unattached to the ground, is very moveable indeed. Being rooted and grounded makes all the difference.
Jesus referenced this difference when he described a sower who spread his seed, the results varying according to the type of ground it went into. (Luke 8: 5-15) When the seed fell on ground that was shallow, or hardened, or infested with thorns, it couldn’t take root properly and the results were dismal. Likewise, He said, the Kingdom of Heaven contains believers who, like ground taking in seed, initially receive the word of God with joy but for a number of reasons – shallowness, cares of the world, persecutions – never lay down deep roots, making them easily moved. Only the ones who are grounded remain strong, and though when I used to yell at my kids “You’re grounded!” I doubt they considered it good news, to a believer, being found grounded is a compliment and, in fact, a goal.
And it’s one that too few of us are attaining. There are plenty of Christians who, like my flowerpot, live within the walls and benefits of the Christian community. They’ve been church goers a long time, and receive ecclesiastical care on a regular basis – sermons, fellowship, prayer – just as my flowerpot receives regular care from me. But just like the potted plant, their roots go only so far, so in the end, they’re easily moved. Sometimes they flit from church to church, excusing their mobility by citing the faults of the latest congregation they left (bad music, too big, people not nice enough) but never asking themselves if their own instability causes them to abort relationships too quickly. Others may stay in the same church but refuse to exercise themselves spiritually outside of official meeting times, while others abandon the faith altogether, claiming it “didn’t work.”
(Cynically, perhaps, I’ve come to think that really means “something happened that I didn’t like, or God required something of me I wasn’t willing to give, so I packed my toys and went home.”)
Now, I’m not going to equate “well grounded” with salvation. Paul addressed a number of saints – truly born again believers – in his letters to Corinth, berating them for being carnal and not well grounded. (See Corinthians chapters 1-3, for example) Likewise Jesus rebuked a number of churches in The Revelation, calling them out on serious sins that call for repentance, yet they were true churches, essentially filled with true believers. And since I’m not completely settled on the once-saved-always-saved question, I will allow that Christians who refuse to mature over the years may indeed still be saved. But not well grounded; unstable; falling far short of the abundance Jesus promised to the serious disciple.
So what’s the difference? I really think it comes down to simple decisions about what we invest in, as does gardening. I love my yards, though I’m no pro at the gardening thing, nor will I ever be. But certain principles work and simply can’t be gotten around. You have to till the ground, plant the seed, water it regularly, trim off the dead leaves, and nurture what’s planted with nutrients. No mystery there, and certainly no brilliance; just common sense, and a willingness to consistently invest in the yards growth and beauty.
So it is with the difference between well and poorly grounded believers. The well-grounded invest daily in some study of the Bible, since they know they need to hear from God and receive guidance and wisdom for each day’s challenges. They pray, as they know communion with God is the primary way we abide in Him and bear fruit. They receive nutrients by sitting under the teachings of capable pastors and teachers, and they receive nurturing from regular fellowship and hearty communion with fellow believers. They allow trials to strengthen them, making them better rather than bitter. And as needed, they sit still while their Father the Husbandman purges them of dead leaves needing to be pruned.
No mystery there, and certainly no brilliance; just common sense, and a willingness to consistently invest in their own growth and beauty.
I’ve known the Lord for 42 years; big deal. The question isn’t how long I’ve been in the garden, but how deep my roots have gone, and how settled in Him my life truly is. So I ask myself today if I’m indeed grounded, and if not, what area of my life needs more depth, pruning, or care.
I hope you’ll join me by asking yourself that critical question.