Friday, December 2, 2011

Appreciate the Roots





Scripture

But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree,
(Romans 11:17 NASB)
do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you.
(Romans 11:18 NASB)

Observation

The Israelites were God's chosen people and in this analogy by Paul they are the roots. We (Gentiles) have been privileged to be grafted into the tree. They were privileged to be partakers of the rich root. That is, God had planned for them to be partakers of His divine nature. Now, as a branch which is grafted into the tree, we too can become partakers of His divine nature. We should not look with arrogance on the children of Israel, but rather, be grateful for what was begun through them. We are simply branches and the branches grow because of the nourishment they receive from the root. We are privileged to be connected to the root because we have been grafted into the tree. May we be grateful for the grace which has been extended to us!

Application

In the fourth century a man named Gregory (known as the Theologian), wrote about his parents and how they came to faith in Christ Jesus. Utilizing this same scripture as background, he referred to his mother, Nonna as the great olive tree. That is, his mother was a follower of Christ and was extremely strong in her faith. His father, (also Gregory) was not a believer. He actually belonged to some strange cult of their day known as the Hipsistarians. Nonna -- the strong one, the olive tree -- began to pray for her husband that one day he might be grafted into the tree. She prayed for years and years when finally her prayers were described as the "drip which hollows out the stone." Her husband finally turned toward the Lord, and their son describes his father as the branch which is grafted into the mighty tree. The father is the new graft, while Nonna is the strong and mighty tree. Gregory goes on to say that his father grew quickly in his faith and became strong because Nonna's roots were so deep that they were able to nourish her and her husband alike.

Gregory has immortalized his mother Nonna in his writings but has helped us to see a practical application of this scripture from Paul. Too often we don't take the time to appreciate the depths of the roots which are partakers together with God. In this case, a woman was deeply united to God. She lived with an unbelieving husband for many years, never giving up on him. Ultimately the strength of her faith was enough to support her husband and soon after his conversion he became a Priest and Bishop. Their children were all followers of Christ. Her second son became the physician to the Emperor and even debated the Emperor over Christianity -- and won!

Too often these days we look at the branches and want to ooh and ah over their beauty. May we never forget to look at and appreciate the roots. They aren't pretty but without them the branches will die. Be grateful for those who have gone before us who have been willing to dig deep and put down the roots for all of eternity. Only there can we be partakers together with Him. Only there do we receive real strength and nourishment.

Prayer

Lord, I am grateful for those who have gone before me who have been willing to go deep with You. Please, help us today to pay the price that it takes to go deep. Amen.

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