My friends, John and Tracy, were gone when a huge windstorm hit their neighborhood. Although no one could be sure a tornado was involved, the winds were clocked at 70 miles an hour. John and Tracy told me that when they returned later that day, their street was closed. A huge pine tree had been blown down, and it fell right across the road. Now other kinds of trees had lost some branches, but the wind had actually totally uprooted this evergreen. Well, a neighbor explained to John that it really isn’t that hard to uproot a pine tree – no matter how big it is. Even though it’s a big tree, it has shallow roots … so it’s relatively easy to bring it down. Now, there are a lot of “pine-tree-Christians” – some even big and beautiful Christians – who have shallow roots. And that’s why they keep falling. Jesus talked about vulnerable believers with His disciples in Luke 6:46-49. He says, “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? I will show you what he is like who comes to Me and hears My words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock (or developed deep roots). When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears My words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation (or had shallow roots). The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete. “Now, that’s two kinds of Christians – just like two kinds of trees: one with deep roots that can withstand a storm and one with shallow roots that gets felled by the storm. With the times we’re living in becoming more stressful and more uncertain – and even dangerous – it’s pretty important to be sure that your commitment to Jesus is deeply rooted. Shallow spiritual roots come in several varieties. There’s environmental faith – the kind that is strong when you’re in your Christian world but caves in when you’re not. And then there’s second-hand faith. That’s a faith that isn’t really yours firsthand – it’s rooted in your parent’s Christianity, or your church’s faith, or your pastor’s faith, or your Christian friends. There isn’t much really going on directly between you and Jesus. That kind of faith will never survive a storm. Stagnant faith – that’s another form of shallow roots. Not much new has happened between you and Jesus for a long time, and consequently, He seems far from you – He seems less real than He used to. And when a test or temptation hits, it won’t be enough to keep you standing. One other kind of “shallow-roots-Christianity” is “event faith.” This kind of faith depends on the next big spiritual event, the next high, the next big Christian experience to keep you going. In between events, you go into a deep valley. That kind of relationship with Christ is going down eventually. Jesus’ parable about the two houses is a call to a strong foundation … to deep roots. In this parable He tells us the difference between storm-proof and storm-wrecked faith. It’s not whether or not you know what He says. Both the man whose house stood and the man whose house fell “heard” what Jesus said. The difference was putting what Jesus said into practice.
The question is, are you regularly getting into God’s word on you own and then immediately going out and acting on what you read? It’s immediate assimilation of God’s words into real life situations that makes you a little stronger each day. So you read or listen to God’s Word asking these two questions: “What did God just say to me?” and “What am I going to do differently today because of what He said?” And every time you do that, your roots go a little deeper into Jesus. Meetings won’t do it, theology won’t do it, a great Christian environment won’t do it. It comes from letting Jesus change you through His Word a little bit each day. That is spiritual reality. It is this application that promotes deeper roots. These are the roots that will leave you standing strong no matter how fierce the storm.