Monday, November 1, 2004

Rooted and Established

He shall be like a tree
  Planted by the rivers of water,
  That brings forth its fruit in its season
Whose leaf also shall not wither
  And whatever he does shall prosper
(Psalm 1:3)
This is talking about the man who does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly, stand in the path of sinners, or sit in the seat of the scornful. Instead, he delights in the Word of God, and he is always meditating on it, pondering it by speaking it to himself over and over.

To be planted, in this Hebrew context, is to be rooted and established. It is not enough to simply dig a hole and drop a tree into it. A tree is not really planted until it begins to extend its roots downward and outward to tap into the moisture of the river. It becomes integrated with the soil so that it cannot be easily blown over or uprooted.

It is only when a tree is rooted and established that it can begin to produce fruit, to be fresh and green, and to prosper. And it can only be rooted and established by staying in one place.

There are many Christians who jump from church to church, from group to group, never staying long enough to become a part of any congregation or fellowship. So they never get rooted or well-grounded. Consequently, they do not bear good fruit, they do not prosper, and they do not stay fresh and green. They begin to wither because they have no stability.

Stability is an important part of discipleship. That is why for centuries monks and monasteries have always had a “vow of stability,” committing themselves to stay in one place and work out whatever differences they might have with their brothers or leaders.

This is a strong feature of Benedictine communities. In The Rule of Benedict, written about the sixth century, Benedict of Nursia featured stability prominently. He noted that there were many monks who went about from place to place, soaking up the benefits of each place, but never becoming a productive member. They went about everywhere, but never became a part of anywhere. He called them gyrovagues. They were pointless wanderers. They had no purpose. They added nothing to the prosperity of a house, spiritually or otherwise, and were really nothing more than parasites.

But those who delight in the Word of God must learn to be a true part of God’s people. For God is love, and love cannot flow in isolation. We must be part of a community of faith in Jesus Christ. That is we will find stability. Then we will begin to see the blessing and power of God’s love manifest in life-changing, world-changing ways. That is where we will find fruitfulness and prosperity, and where we will remain fresh and green.
Those who are planted in the house of the LORD
  Shall flourish in the courts of our God.
They shall still bear fruit in old age;
  They shall be fresh and flourishing,
To declare that the LORD is upright;
  He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him
(Psalm 92:13-15)