Rooted in Christ through Faith (Lutheran Schools week Sermon)
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20
March 7th & 8th, 2009
This past week our school has emphasized this year’s school theme “Rooted in Christ”, through memorizing bible passages, singing songs, and participating in various activities. As with most root systems, there is not just one root that goes down and obtains water for the plant. Rather from a main root, there are multiple interconnected roots that branch out, all varying in size. Faith in the completed work of Jesus Christ saves, unbelief condemns. The Faithful Christian is the plant that lives above ground, and yet to remain a Christian, God has blessed us with various teachings that help sustain that plant. These teachings were expressed this week.
The first is that we are “rooted in truth”. The Psalmist writes “Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth, give me an undivided heart that I may fear your name”. According to recent survey by George Barna 66% of adult Americans do not believe in a thing like absolute truth, and 72% of those between the ages of 18-25. The philosophy of most Americans goes something like this “truth is important, by what is true for you may not be true for me”. In this view truth is dependent on each person, and that we do not have the right to bring our views or versions of truths on others. Now while it is true that we are not saved by absolute truth as impersonal truths. In other words we are not by a statement, but rather by the person of Jesus. Jesus makes some amazing claims about himself, all that imply we can count on him. He is not lying. He says “I am the way the truth and the life”. He speaks about the bible “today the scriptures are fulfilled in your hearing”, and about each of us “I tell you the truth no one can enter the kikngdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit (John 3:5). What Jesus says is real, and trustworthy, and we can count on him. To believe in God’s Truth, doesn’t mean we know everything about God and his relationship to humanity, but we do know the truth that we are sinners, and in need of a Savior. This is why the bible says “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free”. While we can’t see the roots systems, they are real and necessary for the plant to survive.
Another root that branches out for the Christian faith is that of service. Paul once wrote “Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God” (Romans 15:17). On the one hand the Christian life is all about us, Jesus died and rose and gives life personally to his people in baptism. Yet, as we live out this life, it is not about us. Rather, our living out the faith is ultimately about our neighbor, whoever that might be. This calling, to love our neighbor as our self, is carried out in a number of situations in life. It’s important that whether we are children of this school or children of Christ in this congregation we see that the life we are called to live is a life primarily a life lived in faith toward God, and in service of our neighbor. Our world would like to tell us that to really live we have to depend and serve our own agenda, our own happiness, our own fulfillment. While these can be tools used to serve our neighbor, they are not the goal, rather our neighbor is. Remember Jesus came not to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many. Therefore we are called to “Put on then as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another (Colossians 3:12).
Another extension root that spreads out under the plant is that of God’s promises. Psalm 145:13 says “The Lord is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made”. The kindergarten class brought out many of God’s promises made to his people in the past. The promises to Noah, not to send a flood. The promise of Abraham that he would have many descendents through the Savior. The promise to make it through the wilderness to the promised land. The promise of things like baptism, 1 Peter says “baptism now saves you”. The promise of the Savior who said on the cross “it is finished”. Here all our redemption, all our salvation was complete. Nothing more to be done, in fact his resurrection confirms this fact. The promise of a Savior who says lo I am with you always even to the end of the age. To those struggling with sin but still trusting in Jesus, Paul makes the statement that there is “no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.” These promises we are to hear again and again. Promises, promises, and more promises from God to his children. This is students of our school memorize bible passages, so that in all sorts of situations they can recall what God has taught them through these promises.
Of course all of this is ours because as Christians we are rooted in Trust. Trust/or Faith is knowing that God has done all this in Jesus Christ, and that he has good in store for us. Yet, even this is not enhanced or kept by our own will. The bible says faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ. It comes outside of ourselves. Paul writes I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me. This sort of action, engenders faith in each of us. Faith is more than believing God exists, rather it is trusting that this Jesus in the meal, in the water and the word, on the cross, and in tomb, this Jesus who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit is for me and you. This not self obtained, nor is it self sustained. It is brought to us as a gift, and through the Word.
Finally we are rooted and established in love. “And I pray that you being rooted and established in love may have power together with all the saints to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ”. The Bible says God is love, and though we don’t know everything about him and what he is doing, we do know that when you give up your best for others, as he did with his son, that is the ultimate in love. We believe teach and confess, that God’s true love in Jesus Christ is greater than the love parents have for their children, spouses have for each other, friends, and so forth. 1 Corinthians 13 says there is faith, hope and love, and the greatest of these is love.
There is a lot that can legitimately damage a plant. Wind, drought, bugs, but as long as that root runs deep enough, and other roots get nourishment from the main root, the plant will survive, and you know folks so will we. In the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.