Rooted for Shifts

What has changed in your life?

Who was president of the US on your 5th birthday?

Where did you live in 1965? ’75? ’85? ’95? ’05?

How much did a gallon of gas cost you on December 31, 1999? (One of the great things about the internet is all the stuff yet to be deleted. Here is a post I found:)

Harold L. wrote in 1999:
Dear Dollar Stretcher,
In Davenport, Iowa the price of gasoline is $1.17. During the last year it went as low as $0.86. I bought it in Southwest Missouri two weeks ago at $1.06. Considering the variations in price, (I love this phrase:) there is a little gouging going on. (www.stretcher.com)

Rooted For Shift

This tree is at the overlook at Blackrock Mountain State Park in North Georgia. It is exposed on a rock face and faces all types of weather. I’ve gone backpacking up to this spot twice in the last few years and it is one of my favorite overlooks but I think it is the tree which really inspires me. The tree on Blackrock Mountain faces shifting weather but its roots are firm. It is rooted for shift.

Victor Hugo cautioned us, “Change your opinions but not your principles. Change your leaves but don’t move your roots.”

So what has changed in your life in the matters of faith?
When did you decide church mattered?
Why did your knowledge about Jesus Christ become faith in Jesus Christ?

Colossians 1:15-23 ESV He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16) For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things were created through him and for him. 17) And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18) And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19) For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20) and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. 21) And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22) he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23) if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.


What's Up in Colossae?


When Epapharas journeyed to Rome to talk with Paul about the situation in Colossae, there were changes, shifts were happening in the community. With a little detective work, we can determine the shift had to do with Jesus’ place in the Christian faith. Like in other churches, there were issues coming from differing faiths and backgrounds.

Paul’s introduction addresses some of the root challenges to the faith in the Colossian church such as: Are there not spiritual beings greater than Jesus? Jesus was a human being but was he fully a spiritual being, so does that make Him less powerful than others? Was Jesus really God’s Son and therefore equal to God? The challenges could be put in two catagories: A challenge to the Nature of Jesus and a challenge to the Deity of Jesus.

The Nature of Jesus


Regarding the Nature of Jesus, the issue of Jesus being human, Paul says at first:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation (v 15) and again
For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell (v 19). Jesus is clearly both spiritual and physical. In Jesus, God affirms the “goodness” of the created world by the fullness of God dwelling in human form. Those who were trying to teach that Jesus was subservient to other spiritual beings were informed, by Paul, this is not the case. This doesn’t shift.

The Deity of Jesus


As to the Deity of Jesus, Paul affirms
For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:16-17 ESV) Adam Clarke, the Methodist Pastor and theologian, whose notes on the Bible have been considered authoritative for nearly 3 centuries, stated regarding these two verses:
Now, allowing St. Paul to have understood the terms which he used, he must have considered Jesus Christ as being truly and properly God. Paul clearly and decisively addresses the foundation of what the church believes regarding Jesus Christ.
“Change your leaves, not your roots.”

Catching Up with Dayna


I met this past Saturday and had lunch with one of my former students from my days as a youth pastor. At the end of this week, I’m officiating her wedding, talk about things shifting! Every time we get together, Dayna some how brings the conversation to cell phones and she reminds how I once said I’d never have a cell phone. Along with my cell phone, goes my palm-pilot and laptop. I’ve had a page on MySpace for almost three years. Now I have a Facebook account as well and three months ago I started a blog. The purpose of the blog is to help connect to people looking for faith and a church. A side benefit of being online however, has been to read and listen to the diversity of voices regarding faith. Many of those voices are ones who claim to be Christian yet it is apparent, they’ve shifted from many core beliefs of the Church.

Shifts in Faith


Now some of those shifts are opinions. I respect that opinions may shift so long as our principles don’t. It is not an issue regarding leaves but an issue regarding roots. And the roots were put down, says Paul in Jesus Christ, who… in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:19-20 ESV)

Roots Put Down at Nicea


It was reaffirmed at the first Council of Nicea in the year 325. It echoes again Paul’s letter. This is not the full creed you’ll find in the hymnal but the original and thus the core:
We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father [the only-begotten; that is, of the essence of the Father, God of God], Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made [both in heaven and on earth]; who for us men, and for our salvation, came down and was incarnate and was made man; he suffered, and the third day he rose again, ascended into heaven; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. And in the Holy Ghost.
This creed, alongside the Apostle’s Creed, outlines correct belief for Christians and defines what is consistent with the Biblical record. The United Methodist Church’s Book of Discipline contains the Articles of Religion and our Confession of Faith which have continued to uphold these core teachings.

Rooted For Shift in Real Life



The challenge becomes: How can we make it work? How does belief become lived out as faith everyday?

And Paul answers, “…continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister. (Colossians 1:23 ESV) We make it work by putting down roots which go deep and draw from our faith and hope in Jesus Christ.

In the early day of the Methodist revival, John Wesley the need for believers to gather in Societies outside of Sunday worship. He established “The General Rules” for these groups. The purpose? To follow through on what the Bible teaches regarding following Jesus Christ. It is hard to develop character without connections and comrades on the journey with you. Disciple Bible Studies, UMM Accountability Groups, WINGS, are all results of the Societies Wesley began and are available to us to help “…continue in the faith, stable and steadfast…”

A Shifty People Rooted For Shift


God intends for us to shift and change because he calls for us to be holy. But I believe God intends for our roots to firmly be planted on faith in Jesus Christ. A faith which can be authentic. A faith which can be lived daily. A faith which does lead to holiness. A faith which is worth giving up everything for.
“Change your leaves, not your roots.”



May I Ask: Where have you found it most difficult to be "stable and steadfast"? What has that experience taught you?

May I Suggest: Connect with a friend or two and talk about your roots and how rooted you are.

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