We have said that we are called to fill the world with fruit.
In days to come Jacob will take root, Israel will bud and blossom and fill all the world with fruit.Isaiah 27:6
Jacob/Israel here is a picture of the church and note that it bears fruit because it has taken root below. The fruit above is dependent on the roots below. The root determines the fruit. This is shown also in another prophetic picture for the church to embrace – of a remnant taking root!
‘This will be the sign for you, Hezekiah, ‘This year you will eat what grows by itself, and the second year what springs from that. But in the third year sow and reap, plant vineyards and eat their fruit. Once more a remnant of the kingdom of Judah will take root below and bear fruit above. For out of Jerusalem will come a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors. ‘The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.2 Kings 19:29-31
This picture ends with the renewal and transformation of the world but it begins with a remnant taking root: a core of people who decide to put down firm roots! A core of people who are not just consuming what’s on the surface but who are actually producing what’s in the garden by getting their hands dirty.
Notice that they then ‘go out’ from Jerusalem – in the kingdom, being rooted does not mean being static. But the key question for us is, ‘will we be the consuming majority (1st and 2nd year) or a creative minority? (3rd year)’. Being part of the remnant means participating, working hard, counting ourselves in, getting our hands dirty. This is a core of people who have put down their roots.
The root determines the fruit – in other words, in the secret and hidden places of our lives, in what lies beneath, below the surface. Jesus tells us that the Father is looking at what we do in secret (Matt.6:6) – he is looking not to catch us out but to find the marks of Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
Here are two marks of Jesus:
To be rooted means, like Jesus, our desire is not to impress others but to serve others
He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.Isaiah 53:2-3
We cannot bear the sins of the world as Jesus did but we can bear one another’s burdens and we can serve our community. It is that attitude, rather than the aim to impress, or make a name for ourselves, that he looks for.
To be rooted means, when life cuts us down, we grow again and keep bearing fruit
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.(Isaiah11:1)
The stump here is a prophetic picture of the crucified Christ. Think of some of the people you most admire and who are among the most fruitful people you know and they will likely be people who have been cut down by life, often many times, but they keep going and they keep bearing fruit.
Here are two marks of the Spirit:
To be rooted means you have learned to draw from a deeper place within you than the current circumstances or condition of your soul
‘At least there is hope for a tree: if it is cut down, it will sprout again, and its new shoots will not fail. Its roots may grow old in the ground and its stump die in the soil, yet at the scent of water it will bud and put forth shoots like a plant.Job 14:7-9
There is a spring of the Spirit within you. There is a S/spirit within you that is crying out ‘Abba, Father’; no matter what you are going through. Rooted people have learned to tap into the depths of their spirit at the hardest of times.
To be rooted means we have a deep confident trust in God at all times.
‘But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.’Jeremiah 17:7-8
And so deeply rooted people have a deep confident trust in God, they have developed an inner strength, they have formed a fundamental resilience and they carry the mark of servanthood.
The renewal of our world begins with such a remnant taking root. The root below will determine the fruit above.