We live in a frightening world but we can learn to live in it without fearful hearts. Some people respond to what or who they fear by fighting. They define the people who are not like them as the enemy, and fight. That’s why we have had the ‘culture wars’ and look how disastrous that has been.
While some resist, others retreat. They put up walls and hide behind them. Christians can also sometimes hide behind walls of supposed holiness. Though it is true we have been called to be different from the world, we are also called to be a blessing to the world (Gen.12:1-3; Gal.3:8). We are not only saved from the world we are saved for the world. We can’t fill the world with fruit (Is.27:6) if we are hiding behind walls.
Why this talk of walls? God has spoken to us about the importance of roots if we are going to be fruitful (2 Kings 19:30). But we are concerned that focusing on roots does not turn us inward. We are called to be an outward, missional people. So it is not only important to send our roots down; we also have to make sure we pull our walls down. Roots down, walls down. If we are secure in who we are, if our roots go down deep, we then don’t need to live with walls up. Jesus is our example in this as always: see in the gospels that he is so secure in who he is (the beloved Son of the Father – Mark 1:9-11) that he did not need to live behind the religious or ethnic walls of his contemporaries. He reached out to the lepers, prostitutes, tax collectors, Gentiles etc. He lived without walls.
So we want to be a people whose roots are down and whose walls are down. Because we have deep and secure roots, we are able to remove walls and reach out to people. This includes reaching out to those who are not like us, with radical hospitality and unconditional love.
Here are just a few thoughts on roots down.
- Be rooted in Christ: know who you are and whose you are. Be rooted in your identity in Christ and experience on-going intimacy with Jesus, the Father and the Holy Spirit.
- Be rooted in a local church: we are created to belong, and the local church is where we truly learn to love another, serve one another, forgive one another, honour one another etc. In local church we learn the reality of relationship. Don’t let hurt, offence or disappointment cause you to sever the roots of relationship
- Be rooted in local community: God puts us in particular places for a reason – a local town or city, a neighbourhood, a workplace. Understand why God has put you there and don’t run away when it gets difficult. God’s people are not meant to be a rootless people.
These three dimensions are all involved in being rooted and established in love (Eph.3:17) – loved by God, loving one another and loving others. So be clear on the place God has called you to, the people he has joined you to, and, above all, the Person you are rooted in – Jesus.