And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. (Colossians 2:6-7; New Living Translation)
It’s one thing to “receive Christ” but another to “walk closely with Him.” Many people gladly say “Yes” to everything Jesus offers, but struggle (or refuse) to fully surrender to Him. And, according to the Apostle Paul, this lopsidedness generally produces shallow roots, weak faith, and negativity.
Nominal faith — that which we “name but don’t really live” — is nothing new. In the past, we sometimes measured it by church attendance. People who showed up in worship services just two or three times a year were described as “nominal.” We assumed that they didn’t take faith seriously.
In response, many churches felt that the onus lay on them to make worship services more entertaining and more attractive. Pastors have become visionary cheer-leaders. Worship leaders have become concert performers. Sound and lighting systems (and fog machines) rival the best of secular live shows. Surely this will make Sundays more engaging, and people less “nominal.”
But for all of the fanfare, despite all the bells and whistles, church attendance figures continue to morph — downwards. Yes, we have more mega-churches in the United States than at any point in the nation’s history. Yes, many churches have bigger buildings, budgets, and staffs than ever before. But even in these seemingly thriving environments regular attendance is now defined as once or twice a month. The front door and back door are both wide open, biblical illiteracy is on the rise, spiritual maturity is rare, and moral fortitude is waning.
How common are deep spiritual roots, strong faith, and lives of continual gratitude?
Apparently this modern-day phenomenon reflects a centuries-old story. Men and women have always struggled to follow Christ wholeheartedly, build their lives on Him unreservedly, and sink roots into Him deeply.
We may know that struggle too, but never mind yesterday. We gain nothing by bemoaning yesterday’s failures. Nor do we benefit by pointing at others and their “inch-deep faith.”
What about today?
As we read between the lines of Paul’s comment to the Colossians, it seems evident that spiritual strength, life-stability, and hearts overflowing with thankfulness come from a determined resolve “to follow Christ.” It’s really that simple.
If you started today with barely a thought about Christ, take a moment now. Listen to Him. Affirm your devotion to Him. And offer the rest of this day to Him. Then return to Him at least four more times between now and bed. And may His strength and His joy grip you and transform you.
Weakness gives way to strength. Fear gives way to faith. And negativity gives way to hope.