O—Open—Roots churches are not just seeker-sensitive, they are made up of seekers who continue to seek God with open hearts for as long as they live. “...that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith ...” Thus, the open-faced “beholders” of the God’s glory in II Corinthians 3:18 being changed by degrees. This is worship and seeking—awe in the presence of His glory!
T—Transformational—Roots churches are agents for God’s immeasurable power to transform lives, and communities. “...to Him who is able ...” Acts 17:6 describes “... These who have turned the world upside down...”
Roots churches are obedient to the commands of Christ.
O—Obedient—All roots churches are driven by their purpose “...for this cause...” Acts 6:7 illustrates the priests becoming “obedient to the faith.” We are a subversive people with a radical message, called to a radical lifestyle that does not imitate the world, but Christ.
Whenever I attend a memorial service for a great follower of Jesus, I ask myself what I am doing to make my life count.
How will I spend the next 35 years if I live to be 100?
How will I redeem the time?
How will the church redeem the time it has? "
For this cause," Paul says in Ephesians 3. We must live for a cause - obedience to Jesus.
Jesus said, "If you love me, keep my commandments."
He said the greatest commandment was to love God supremely and our neighbor as ourselves (the second - like unto it). He commissioned us to teach disciples to observe all his commands.
A little boy of three was having a tummy ache and he cried for his Mommy. She had done all she knew to help him and had put him to bed with some medicine, knowing that he would soon feel better. Then, she went about her work, preparing the evening meal for the family.
He cried, "Mommy, please come sit with me so I will not be alone. My tummy hurts."
She replied, "God is with you, Honey."
He came back, "I know, Mommy, but I need someone with skin right now."
We all need folks with skin ...
... and skin in the game.
Paul prayed for his friends with skin.
"For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, 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 3:14-21, New International Version
Human beings were built for community.
Made, in the image of God, as we are, we look to the doctrine of the Holy Trinity for the foundation of this spiritual reality. Namely, God exists in a family and community before God even created the first humans and placed them in that kind of relationship.
All authentic human relationships are founded upon the spiritual reality intrinsic in the nature of God and intrinsic in our own true natures as people made in the image of God.
We need people. We need each other.
We need our vertical relationship with God as Father, Son, and Spirit. We need the internal integration of the various aspects of our own humanity, relating in a healthy way. We need our horizontal relationships of family, community, and commerce. And we need the church, the Body of Christ, the Family of God, the Temple of the Spirit, the Gathering of Saints, and every other reality reflected in the many metaphors for the church.
The church is the living point of gathering where we can work out the ins and outs of what it means to be in relationship with God and people.
R—Relational—Roots churches are about relationships.
Paul prays for the Ephesian followers of Jesus that they will be “...rooted and grounded in love ...”
I John 4:11 reminds us of Jesus' own teaching that we are e called to “love one another.”
Our core relationship is vertical, with the Father, through Jesus and our horizontal relationships radiate outward from the core.
"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."
That is Paul's benediction to it all.
What is difficult for humans is something God is able to accomplish.
Relationships are tricky and messy, but God can help us build them in health to nurture one another.
Elsewhere he prays,
"That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ ..." Colossians 2:2
Hymnary.org recounts the story of one of my favorite hymns:
"An orphan at the age of twelve, John Fawcett (b. Lidget Green, Yorkshire, England, 1740; d. Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire, 1817) became apprenticed to a tailor and was largely self-educated. He was converted by the preaching of George Whitefield at the age of sixteen and began preaching soon thereafter. In 1765 Fawcett was called to a small, poor, Baptist country church in Wainsgate, Yorkshire. Seven years later he received a call from the large and influential Carter's Lane Church in London, England. Fawcett accepted the call and preached his farewell sermon. The day of departure came, and his family's belongings were loaded on carts, but the distraught congregation begged him to stay. In Singers and Songs of the Church (1869), Josiah Miller tells the story associated with this text:
"'This favorite hymn is said to have been written in 1772, to commemorate the determination of its author to remain with his attached people at Wainsgate. The farewell sermon was preached, the wagons were loaded, when love and tears prevailed, and Dr. Fawcett sacrificed the attraction of a London pulpit to the affection of his poor but devoted flock.'"
"Fawcett continued to serve in Wainsgate and in the nearby village of Hebden Bridge for the remainder of his active ministry."
The words of the hymn have been sung at the breaking of the bread and the taking of the cup at communion. I have sung them at graveside services. They have always touched my heart and expressed a deep affection that I have for the People of God.
Blest be the tie that binds Our hearts in Christian love; The fellowship our spirit finds Is like to that above.
Before our Father’s throne, We pour our ardent prayers; Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one— Our comforts and our cares.
We share our mutual woes; Our mutual burdens bear; And often for each other flows The sympathizing tear.
When we asunder part, It gives us inward pain; But we shall still be joined in heart, And hope to meet again.
From sorrow, toil, and pain, And sin we shall be free; And perfect love and oneness reign Through all eternity.
So, the R in ROOTS for being a ROOTS church is RELATIONAL.
That is where it begins and that is where it ends.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Romans 11:16 - "For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches."
My generation was captivated by the drama of Alex Haley’s Root’s saga and thousands of young adults like myself discovered a new hobby in genealogical research.
Now, we are serenaded with the lilting sounds of roots music that carry us back to an earlier time in American life before the assault of electronic music and the pulsating excretions of rap, rock, and rave.
The Latin word for root is “radix” from which we derive the adjective, “radical.” If something is radicitus it is characterized as “by the roots, utterly.”
When I hear the deeply rooted laments of rhythm and blues, the joyful jesting of bluegrass, and the gutsy gospel of the back country,
I think of our rootedness in Jesus Christ. I am led to consider what radical and transforming truths are at the heart of what it means to be the church.
As we confront the challenges of of our time against the backdrop of COVID 19, emerging awareness of inequities and injustice, 9-11 despair, global warming, and sharp divisions ideology, the church must adapt in methodology and delivery without compromising the heart of its message or the core of its identity.
In times of radical change, we must become more rooted and more radical in the essence of who we are and what we are called to be.
Coming out of Ephesians 3:14-21, the idea of being a ROOTS Church that is established in the ancient truth of God’s Word and relevant to the moment emerged
Roots churches are about relationships. “...rooted and grounded in love ...” I John 4:11 reminds us that we are called to “love one another.” Our core relationship is vertical, with the Father, through Jesus and our horizontal relationships radiate outward from the core.
All roots churches are driven by their purpose “...for this cause...” Acts 6:7 illustrates the priests becoming “obedient to the faith.” We are a subversive people with a radical message, called to a radical lifestyle that does not imitate the world, but Christ.
Roots churches are not just seeker-sensitive, they are made up of seekers who continue to seek God with open hearts for as long as they live. “...that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith ...” Thus, the open-faced “beholders” of the God’s glory in II Corinthians 3:18 being changed by degrees. This is worship and seeking—awe in the presence of His glory!
Roots churches are agents for God’s immeasurable power to transform lives, and communities. “...to Him who is able ...” Acts 17:6 describes “... These who have turned the world upside down...”
Roots churches have keen receptors to God’s love at work in the midst of their times. “...may be able to comprehend ...”
Jesus indicted the people of His day for not being able to discern the times. (Matthew 16:3) and speaks to us from Heaven saying, “He that hath ear, let Him hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.” (Revelation 3:7 ... And repeated)
Picture: Aaron Escobar, Exposed roots on a mango tree, Wikipedia Commons