In recent months, a potted tree in my garden had grown really large. While it had formerly been taking it’s time to grow, it seemed that overnight, it had grown very fast and the canopy had gotten enormous. Upon further inspection, I came to realize that though potted, the tree root had found it’s way through the pot drain hole, then rooted into the ground itself. Though the increased canopy size caused the tree to begin leaning, the root was so secure, the tree remained upright. Kind of how our ability to remain upright is also influenced by how we are rooted.
Colossians 2:6 tells us that once we accept Christ Jesus as our Lord, we are to let our roots grown down into Him and to build our lives on Him. It is from Jesus that we gain our strength for life, whatever may come. This is the source I have drawn from many times when faced with adversity or heartbreak. It is from this source that many are able to demonstrate incredible peace and grace in some of the most horrific circumstances.
The more I grow in my faith, and deepen my relationship with God, the more that the superficiality that often accompanies faith grieves me. Why? One reason is that the world sees it. We can proclaim to be Christians, but when our behavior does not reflect the identity of Christ — He who Christians are to model our lives after — it causes others to disregard His beauty because they attribute our ugly behavior to Christ. My heart breaks when this can describe me.
So many people who proclaim to be Christians approach faith like a box to be checked every Sunday, then live their lives as everyone else does during the week. I know…I used to be one of them.
But I have learned there is so much beauty in the authentic depths of faith. The more I have truly yielded my life, not just my Sundays, to Christ, the more I have experienced the greater depths of who God really is. And He is remarkable! I have been a born-again believer since 1995. That term — born again — used to really sound freaky to me. But Jesus himself actually used these words to describe a spiritual rebirth:
John 3:3: “Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
Rebirth to something new is the whole point. Authenticity starts when we recognize that we cannot try to live like Jesus, who demonstrates strength, grace, mercy, peace and so many other amazing things, if we do not start with a spiritual rebirth and go deep with Him. We must choose for ourselves who we will follow. Then, we must learn about who He really is and what He says by studying the Word, allowing him into all the dark places we try to hide. It just won’t work if we are not authentic. It is not meant to.
The inauthenticity of trying to live like this is usually pretty obvious. People play their role, say all the right things, demonstrate the motions, yet their lives do not reflect an authentic reflection of the Savior. Here too, I speak from experience having been like this before. What about this demonstration of faith would cause someone to want to know more about Jesus? What indeed.
Sadly, when we try to “do” faith, not only are we not good representatives of the beauty of God, but we also cheat ourselves out of the most beautiful, life-altering relationship we would have if we chose to live an authentic life of faith. 2 Corinthians 5:17 describes this so beautifully:
“Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come!”
It just doesn’t get better than that.
So back to that tree for a moment. Because I knew that leaving it where it was would become problematic, I had it transplanted. While it seemed secure, this morning when I was out in the garden, I realized that it had completely fallen over. Why? Because the tree roots were no longer deep, rather, they were shallow. At first glance, it looked strong and beautiful. But it had no depth to keep it upright. And so it can be with us.