OpinionsThe ForerunnerRooted and built up

Rooted and built up

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Col 2:6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, 7rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. 8See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. 9For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.

In 2007, I was interviewed by seven students from the University of the Philippines, Manila regarding my views on a controversial book then that questions the divinity of Christ as the Son of God. I remember raising my concern that these kinds of writings, although entertaining and amusing, are seriously harmful. They clearly distort biblical truths that have become the very pillars of what we have believed and embrace as a people of faith. Apostle Paul, in our scripture reading today calls them, “…empty and deceptive philosophies, which do not depend on Christ.”

The Bible, in many occasions, shows God’s warning against teachings, philosophies and world views that clash with the Word of the Lord. In his pastoral letter to the Church in Colosse, Apostle Paul issues a straightforward warning: 8See to it that you do not fall for them.”

How do we then strengthen ourselves for this kind of battle? What can we do today that will better our chances in overcoming the spirit of deception that is so rampant today? There are two important admonitions that we learn from our scripture reading.

Take root

Though hidden from the human eye, roots are the most vital parts of every plant. Without strong and deep roots, a plant will eventually die. Spiritually, the implications are quite similar. When we neglect to deepen the roots of our faith — when we take for granted our relationship with the Lord, our faith becomes shallow and superficial. That’s why Paul says, “just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him… ”

A story was told about a man who went to his doctor and said, “Doctor, my wife and I have been fighting so much because I am having such a hard time doing household chores. When the doctor finished his examination, the man said, “Now, Doc, tell me in plain simple English what is wrong.” The doctor replied, “Well, in plain English, you’re just lazy.” After a long silence, the man said, “Now, Doc, can you give me a sophisticated medical term for that so that I can tell my wife?”

You see friends, just like this man, many of us make excuses for our laziness in matters of our faith. We are too busy with our family and career. We don’t like the Pastor or person handling the Bible Study class. We are too sickly. And the list goes on and on.

When we are spiritually lazy, we fail to develop fundamental and basic disciplines that will help us get through in this life.

Worse, we pass on to our children and grandchildren, a very shallow and casual view of a Christianity that Christ himself never taught.

The fact is that we don’t see the consequences of these things immediately. Life can actually go on smoothly and normally for some time. But when the storms of life start coming — when the waters begin rising and when the winds start pounding strong against us and our family, those who have neglected their faith are shaken, overwhelmed and uprooted.

Bear fruit

After we take root, we bear fruit. Fruitfulness is the result of Christ’s fullness in our lives. For Jesus, fruitfulness is a serious matter. It is the single most proof that we are true disciples of Jesus. John 15: 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

As the only Christian nation in Asia, the burden of fruitfulness lies very heavy upon the Filipino people. In the face of mounting corruption, deepening poverty and erosion of traditional family values, we ask ourselves, what have the Christians truly done in nation-building?

But I guess, the greater question to ask is, “Who are really the true disciples of Jesus — those who are followers of the Lord by heart and not just by label?”

In his book, So Great Salvation, Charles Ryrie said there are five basic fruits every genuine Christian should bear: 1) character, 2) right conduct, 3) witness, 4) worship/ prayer and 5) giving.

But you see, fruit is impossible without root. We can never short-cut the process of genuine fruitfulness. Fruitfulness is not just behavioral modification. Fruitfulness is a result of the Holy Spirit’s active and living presence in a person’s life. Fruitfulness is a consequence of God’s grace through the Holy Spirit that works deeply in our hearts — transforming us one single step at a time from glory to glory as we abide by God’s Word and live according to God’s set standards.

The Bible warns us that there will be more and more godlessness in the coming days. More heresies and controversies shall rise to discredit Christ as the Son of God and only Savior of the world. More voices will speak against the truth of God’s Word. More will use “wisdom” or “high sounding theology” to disguise teachings that are clearly anti-Christ.

May God, therefore, give us deep spiritual roots, and genuine spiritual fruits — so that we may not be fooled and uprooted by the deceptions of this world.

God have mercy on us as we fight this unique but very important spiritual battle. It is battle we cannot win by ourselves. It is a battle we can only win by the grace of God through the Holy Spirit — a battle we can only win if we have roots and bear fruits.

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