Tuesday, November 10, 2009

In Other Words--How Deeply Rooted Am I?


“We Americans are pragmatists to the max.
We want results.
And we want them yesterday.
We want them without too much pondering
and too much pain….
We have developed all kinds of
Christ-coated remedies
that are shallow and short-lived.
We are not, by and large,
the deeply grounded saints
that some of our forefathers were.”

John Piper

Let me say up front that I like John Piper. He makes me think, he stretches how I view God and he seems to be genuine. In fact, he is probably one of the most deeply grounded writers/speakers out there today. And I understand the cautions in this quote. I understand that if we, as a church and a society, are looking for quick-fix, practical answers to everything we will miss the joy of the intentional journey. We will miss the intricacies of a relationship with God because we want it easy and on our terms. I understand that. I even agree with that.

The journey of relationship with God is rarely easy, quick-fix, pain-free and pragmatic. Yes, God speaks to the practicalities of our life but faith is often more paradoxical than pragmatic.

But I want to take issue with the implication that the "saints of old" were all deeply rooted and, in comparison, the saints of today are not. Yes, Piper does use the word "some" to describe the saints of old but that is not how it is often interpreted. I get so weary of hearing the criticism of "we are not as ____ (you fill in your blank: spiritual, knowledgable, faithful, etc) as the saints of old." I believe that there are giants of the faith in every generation--and that they look different to each generation. But I believe that in each generation there are many more saints who are just doing their best to follow God in the way that he is revealed by teaching, scripture reading and life experiences of their individual lives. Most of us live in the mundane. Most of us hope to become more deeply rooted and are following as faithfully as we can. But, most of us will never consider ourselves as "deeply rooted as our forefathers" because we see the need for more when we look at their lives in hindsight.

It is true that there are congregations throughout the world that are "majoring on the minors" and spending more time teaching how to be content with what we have or speaking about trying to get more. But there are also many congregations that are more concerned with growing their attenders' faith and deepening their walk. Just in the little microcosm of blogging Christian women I see a strong desire to grow and strengthen our faith. Yes, we write about the practicalities of living that out in our families because that is the our realm of influence, but the underlying desire is to know Him more. We are helping one another grow deeper roots. I don't see the ladies that I visit looking for quick-fixes. We want to grow and we know that takes time. I'm unwilling to give up saying "I can't be like my great-grandmother in her faith" and just settle for a practical faith.

How deeply am I rooted? Much deeper than I was five years ago. Not as deeply as I pray I will be rooted five years from now. With a little attention to the details of faith, my roots should continue to grow.

How deeply are you rooted? Are your roots growing?

Esther at the Heart of a Pastor's Wife is our hostess this week. Please visit and read the other responses to this quote.


Sarah said...

Thank you so much for your post today. You did a delightful job speaking up for the saints of today. You are so right and did not really think about it until I read your post. I confess I've too have gotten caught up at looking to the past and thinking about the "Good 'ole days.' Thanks again!

Tami Boesiger said...

Well said, MiPa. I agree we are too nostalgic about the "saints of old" giving them more leeway than we do ourselves. They were humans like us who just kept getting up everyday and asking God what was next. We do well to follow their examples, but we should concentrate more on deepening our own faith.

You hit me right where I'm at when you said, "How deeply am I rooted? Much deeper than I was five years ago. Not as deeply as I pray I will be rooted five years from now."

Amen, sister, amen.

Esthermay said...

I’m a big fan of fan of John Piper too. He really does challenge my thinking and help me in my desire to be grounded. His teaching is – as you say – “genuine.”

You do make some valid points about comparing the “deeply rooted” of yesteryear and today. I do tend to agree in a very fundamental analysis, however, that –as a whole – our society is less grounded. One only need look at the trends in our society – as compared to even fifty years ago -- to conclude that there are fewer and fewer deeply grounded Christians. The term “Christian” alone has been so loosely and inaccurately used. . .

I have often wished I could live within the microcosm of my blogging sisters because you are absolutely spot-on when you say that our roots are continuing to grow… It is a trend I’ve witnessed all over: people finding greater kinship in Jesus and their faith walk with strangers on the Internet than in the community of their own church. Even as a pastor’s wife I see the trend – maybe it’s the anonymity? I don’t know.

Great topic. I shall enjoy visiting the others today. You’re my first stop.

Great post.
THANKS! Much to think and meditate on . . .

Anonymous said...

Aren't you thankful to be more deeply grounded . . . however, I wonder how many can truly say this . . . and just go with the flow. So appreciate your joining in and sharing!