Colossians 2: “Rooted and Built Up”

It’s All About the Roots

I never cease to be amazed by the power and frailty of a garden weed. Just the other day I was weeding around the house and remembering how blown away my children were to see the shallowness of a weeds roots. They could see I was wearing a glove due to the razor sharp barbs on the leaves and stem, but couldn’t believe how quickly and effortlessly I was able to pull the weed from the ground. The look in their eyes said, surely something that nasty and large would dig in a little deeper to hold its ground!

Not one to try and miss a teachable moment, I turned their attention to a set of trees on the parkway in front of the house. I shared with them the amazing truth that the root system of a tree is twice as wide as the width of the branches we see above ground. I also shared in some cases the roots are as deep as the tree is tall! Their little 7 and 10 years old minds were swirling with visions of what they could possibly look like. I concluded our little lesson with helping them understand the difference between a weed and a tree, and how they handle adversity. Simply put, it’s all about the roots.

Colossians 2:6-7 (NLT) And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.

Paul uses a couple of different metaphors in these verses that I want to break down, but if we stand back and look, we can find a progression that I believe is vitally important to our relationship with Jesus.

Accept  →  Follow (Walk with Him)  →  Root in Him  →  Build on Him  =  Strong in the Faith

Rooted

The first thing Paul calls for after accepting and following is to Let your roots grow down into him. Just as plants draw nourishment from the soil through their roots, Paul is urging believers to do the same in Christ. Have you ever seen a tree growing on a toxic waste dump? No! Because toxic waste doesn’t provide sustainable nutrients for the life of the tree. In that situation the Tree dies every time!  Paul’s word choice here is important because he’s indicating a present state based on a past action. A more accurate translation would be, “having been rooted.”

Built

Paul continues with his metaphor and indicates that the Colossians should have lives that are firmly built on the foundation of Christ alone. Like Paul’s word choice for “rooted,” “build on” describes a continuous action. It’s like if a person were a house, you would want to ensure the right material was used for the new addition. This is similar to the point Jesus makes in Matthew 7:24-25 (NLT) 24 “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. 25 Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. 

Strong in the Faith

The third metaphor is actually borrowed from the legal term “established,” meaning to describe a binding contract. Paul not only desired the people would be built up, but that they would be established in order to stand up against the false teaching in that area. Just like many of the other city’s, the Colossians were dealing with an even scarier teaching, “Gnosticism.” Literally translated “having knowledge,” Gnostics believed that they can make/earn heaven based on their own power and understanding. This is a very rudimentary definition, but Paul will tackle the Gnostics many times through his letter. Example: Colossians 2:18-19 (NLT) 18 Don’t let anyone condemn you by insisting on pious self-denial or the worship of angels, saying they have had visions about these things. Their sinful minds have made them proud, 19 and they are not connected to Christ, the head of the body.

So let’s check the strength of our roots today, after that, check your foundation; one last thing, test to see if you’re strong in the faith.