Grow deep (even if you aren’t a Better Boy or Early Girl)
I found something beautiful I wish to share. In Colossians 2:7, Paul is writing to a people who, like us, can be swayed by cultural norms that may lead to confusion when it comes to how and who Jesus Christ is, and what he has done. When things get wild and wooly, or when the sky may appear to be falling down in or around our nation’s capital and perhaps our nation as a whole, Paul provides imagery that keeps the sky from falling because his words ground our souls. Maybe Paul felt inspired to tell the early Christians about Jesus Christ after he thought of the ground under his feet. He may have considered farmers and their unshakeable understanding of how things grow from seed when he wrote, “Let your roots grow down into him (NLT).”
When I think of “grow down deep,” I remember my best farmer and gardener, my dad. He had few interests other than the job he loved. Gardening was one of his hobbies though. He wasn’t a fancy dude with fertilizers and fencing; he just loved and grew tomatoes. For the crew he worked with each summer, he filled a very large, very bright orange-colored cooler with water each morning. If any water was left at the end of the work day, the water went on the tomato plants. That was it. Just water. Sometimes the plants were able to drink deeply. Sometimes they were not.
I invite you to think of their roots. The roots started as just a handful of threads (my dad bought plants as a head start in the short growing season) and by late July, the time I’m writing this column, these plants became this network of underground growth and connectivity. Their work into the soil pushed so much growth above ground so that those tiny green tomato pods swelled into something not only bigger but also incredible. (FYI: Better Boy and Early Girl are names of two types of tomatoes.)
Let your roots grow down into Christ Jesus. How? One way is to visit the first two chapters of Colossians if you have not done so in a while. Perhaps begin with 1:15 and following. Here Paul gives concise, core theology. He says Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He then explains the origin of Jesus, stating that Jesus existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth (v.16a).
This is something to grow for, or, to extend the metaphor, Jesus is someone to grow toward.
Paul adds more good info. He tells us that God made the things we can see and the things we can’t see. Everything was created through him and for him (v. 16c).
Finally, to help our roots grow down deep, Paul tells us that Jesus existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together (v 17). When we have days when we feel as though we are wilting or withering and whatever stake we had is wobbling or bent over, knowing that we can grow down deep into what holds all creation together can be a comfort, and a goal.
The image of a farmer watering his tomatoes with a giant-sized, orange-colored water cooler wasn’t there for Paul when he wrote Colossians. It didn’t need to be. We just need to know or be reminded of this: we can grow down deep to the one who is supreme over all creation and through Jesus Christ, yes, God does hold everything together.
This blog first appeared in The Susquehanna Independent on July 31, 2019.