Rooted and Built Up
“As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.”
The roots of a tree are a great metaphor for fundamental and essential beliefs that ground Christianity. The elaborate system of roots hidden beneath the earth are four to seven times greater than the surface area of the crown of a tree. Another study found a ratio of 38 to 1 of root composition compared to the trunk of a tree (Shea 2023).
These natural facts illustrate the importance of being “rooted.” Systems of roots offer indispensable structure for the tree to stand. The roots also gather the sustenance of water and nutrients to feed the living organism. They also give the tree strength during strong storms and high winds. Our lives must run deep in faith beyond the shallow earth to flourish and withstand adversity.
We ponder, is there anything in this world absolute or immutable? We feel the cultural ground moving beneath us and seismic shifts happening everywhere. Violence and autocracy are growing across the globe, immorality celebrated, and churches leaving Biblical teaching in favor of political correctness and human approbation. Yet, the Bible has not changed and still offers the truth of God’s character, morality, and salvation.
The Apostle Paul confronts false teaching in the church of Colossae. The heresy was a mixture of Jewish law, angelic worship, and strict asceticism. The saints had lost sight of the lordship of Christ by following teachings that did not conform to the “apostles’ doctrine” and personality of Christ. Hear Paul’s words of warning, “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ” (Colossians 2: 8).
The Hebrew writer had also encountered believers in need of the first principles of Christian doctrine because of rampant deception, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are full age” (Hebrews 5:12-14a).
Renowned scholar J. B. Lightfoot observed of the epistle to the Colossians, “The doctrine of the person of Christ is here stated with greater precision and fulness than in any other of St. Paul’s epistles” (Wuest 1969). Paul powerfully writes, “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him” (Colossians 1:16).
Why does the Apostle so eloquently articulate the deity and authority of Christ with such command and emphasis? It is because Christ’s sovereignty and church doctrine are inextricably linked together by His divine authority.
We are commanded, “so walk in Him.” Jesus has left us not only words but a vivid example of deeds to follow (I Peter 2:21; John 13: 13-16). Also, we see the relational character of discipleship. Our daily lives or “walk” should recognize the very presence of the Lord. The Apostle Paul seeks to solidify the church’s beliefs by reminding them of the fundamental truths, “rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught.”
We will embark on a study of the letter to the Colossians while examining the foundational or rooted principles of Biblical doctrine and descriptions of false teaching. It is with hope and prayer that we will find those immutable and eternal truths of God that we can build our lives on. Jesus reminded us that His teachings can withstand the “rain, floods, and wind” because “everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:24).
When we forsake the teachings of Christ and His apostles, we settle for the shifting sand of men’s speculation, skepticism, and despair.