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Back before I had complete control of my tongue, I would make a lot of untamed comments, like, “Back before I had complete control of my tongue.” Things that I thought were funny were really quite insulting. I remember looking at an older woman’s hair and asking, “How did you manage to dye the roots gray?” Not the stuff of which enduring friendships are made.
Howbeit, as in many absurd statements, there is a truffle of truth contained therein if you are willing to root for it. These subterranean snippets can often yield a harvest of information that otherwise remains hidden. This lady’s attempt to hide her hoary head by dying it with henna was hopeless—the real truth was found in the roots.
Our culture entices us to hide what we really are. We can’t expose gray hair and lip-colored lips and expanding foreheads and waists. We can’t be what we are. Ironically, covering up the things we want to hide only draws more attention to them. How easily we can pick out the senior citizen with the jet-black hair and say, “Nice rug!” We look at the Botox-infused face and wonder what Barbie Doll assembly line that visage came from. Of course, there is nothing wrong with wanting to look good, but what is wrong with being real?
Alex Haley garnered fame, fortune, and a Pulitzer Prize for his novel Roots. This sparked a frenzy of people trying to trace their ancestry to find out who they really are. There is an identity to be found in the identities of our forebears, which, in some way, lends dignity or legitimacy to our lives.
Roots are vital to the life of a plant. Roots are the beginnings of the plant, and provide nourishment and stability. When the roots are crowded or injured or deprived of nourishment, the plant cannot survive. The same is true in the spiritual realm.
Christians are under attack as never before in history. There is more persecution—from virulent books to violent beatings—on more fronts than can be counted. Like trees battered by fierce winds and raging fires, we can stand if we remain firmly rooted.
People often get the wrong impression of Christianity from books written about us by our enemies. They focus on the fringe groups, flakes, and fanatics, giving the impression that Christianity is a forest of fruitcakes. Sadly, those of us who drift from our roots lend credence to the stereotypes.
I’m a “go to the source” kind of person. I want to read the manual, research a person’s quote in the original writing, and review the ingredients on the label. I believe that is the only fair way to find out the true nature of a thing. It’s also the only way to guarantee that we are being true to our roots. To understand Islam, I read the Qur’an. I’ve researched the Bhagavad-Gita, Science and Health, The Book of Mormon, and The Origin of Species, among other sources. There’s nothing like checking the roots for the real color of things.
Sadly, few who think they know Christianity have ever read the Bible. Even more frightening is that a lot of professing Christians don’t read their own manual. This not only weakens one’s faith, it causes the plant to put out defective leaves and flowers. Instead of succulent fruit, we get sucker shoots.
Without the proper roots, there is no security of salvation. Jesus warned, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots” (Matthew 15:13). He was talking about the spiritual leaders who swayed in the popular religious breezes but had no genuine roots.
Just as many plants need a certain type of soil, true spiritual life can only germinate in Christ: “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” (Colossians 2:6, 7, NKJV).
A true understanding and apprehension of God can only be nourished through Christ: “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:17–19).
The seeds of truth are found in the Scriptures, but must be planted in a ready, fertile heart (Matthew 13).
There are many dangers that threaten our growth. We read books about the Bible, and books about books about the Bible, and drift away from our sourcebook. Others lump us in with bonsai trees and evaluate Christianity by the stunted flowers. Sometimes, we even dye our roots in public so no one thinks we are what we really are.
We can be proud of our spiritual roots: the apostles, prophets, patriarchs, and the Scriptures. Let’s not hide or neglect them!
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10 May 2009
You hit the nail on the head with a big bang with this article, right on target! Most professing Christians have not really read the whole Bible, I mean the whole of it from Genesis to Revelation, in careful, prayerful study. Yet they speak like the Pharisees and go on with the "pointing fingers and malicious talk" unaware that the measure they use will be used on them. Thank you for this very truthful write!!!
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