11 Then God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.” And it was so. 12 The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening and there was morning, the third day. – Genesis 1:11-13 (NRSV)
When I lived in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, each spring my family and I would till and plant a huge garden in our backyard. We would prepare the soil by turning it over, adding compost, and leveling the soil for proper drainage on those rainy summer days. Then we would head to the local garden center or nursery to explore and discover new vegetables and herbs. We would plant a variety including kale, kohlrabi, carrots, tomatoes (of all sizes and colors), peppers (mild to hot), cucumbers, broccoli, brussel sprouts, zucchini, eggplant, onions, cabbage, and anything else you can find in a community-supported agriculture (CSA) box. Some years we even tried potatoes, corn, watermelon, and cantaloupe.
The fun part was the harvesting. It was fun to eat the juicy tomatoes or delicious carrots right out of the garden. And it was pure joy to watch the neighborhood children join with us in discovering that vegetables and herbs don’t just come from the grocery store. We would also look up new recipes to use with our newly harvested food.
But before we could get to the harvesting, there was the planting, the weeding, and the nurturing of the plant. I remember teaching my children and the neighborhood children how to care for the roots of the plant. They were the foundation of the plant and the fruit that was to come. We also had to plant the roots in the right soil and to the right depth. If they were planted too shallow, then a wind or rain or storm would pull the plant right out of the soil. If they were planted too deep, then the plant would no longer get the sunlight or the water it needed either.
How often we forget about roots in our own lives. They need nourishment and nurture and they need to be planted in the right depth of soil. If our roots are planted too shallow, then a storm in our life, even a small storm, could knock us down, taking us out of the nurturing soil, unable to produce any fruit. If our roots are planted too deep, we don’t get the nourishment we need and if we produce any fruit it is rotten or doesn’t taste as good.
Our faith in Jesus Christ is part of our foundational root system. But sometimes, we can plant our faith too shallow or too deep. This has resulted in a lot of discussion in newspapers, magazines, and online blogs about how we plant our roots too shallow or too deep. There are now statistics, anecdotal stories, and new terms and language such as “Ala carte” Christian, “Nones”, “Dones,” “Spiritual but not religious” and words that I can’t even use to describe the hypocrisy, judgmental and divisiveness people feel about Christians in general.
The question really comes down to how our roots are being planted and how are we bearing the fruit of our faith in the name of Jesus Christ. Future postings will explore various aspects of our Christian faith and what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ in today’s world.
To live is to sink roots. Life is possible to the extent that we find a place hospitable enough to receive us and allow us to settle in. Home gives us an identity and security. Being safe and sound in familiar territory, we venture beyond the obvious knowing we can always return. (Steinke, Peter. Teaching Fish to Walk: Church Systems and Adaptive Challenges , New Vision Press, 2016, page 132.