Living in the Tree House of God’s Love

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
Default article daily reflection

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3:17

When I was in school, I was taught to avoid mixed metaphors. A mixed metaphor combines two metaphors in a way that really doesn't make sense. For example, I once saw a church sign that read: "The Solid Rock Church: A Church Aflame." Talk about a mixed metaphor! Solid rocks tend not to burn (except, I suppose, in the case of molten lava.)

In Ephesians 3:17, we find another mixed metaphor: "And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love. . . ." The translators of the NIV have tidied up the mixed metaphor, which is more obvious in the original Greek, which reads more literally, "being rooted and founded in love." The first participle (errizomenoi) is an agricultural metaphor, based on the Greek word for root (riza). The second participle is an architectural metaphor (tethemeliomenoi), based on the word for foundation (themelios). Thus, in the mixed metaphor of Ephesians 3:17, we are to be connected to and based upon the love of Christ, as a tree is anchored through its roots and as a building rests upon its foundation.

As I meditated upon this mixed metaphor, I was transported back to a happy time in my boyhood. I was sitting cozily in my friend's tree house, which was in a literal sense both "rooted and founded." The roots of the tree also connected the tree house to the ground, serving as its foundation.

As I sat in that tree house, I felt safe and and secure. It was well built (by my friend's father) and trustworthy. Similarly, when we are founded on God's love, we also feel safe and secure. We know that the basis of our life is faithful and sure. It won't crumble away or become unreliable.

But, in that tree house, I also felt adventurous. I wasn't just sitting on the boring, familiar ground. I was up in a tree, living the life of Tarzan or Swiss Family Robinson. Likewise, as we are rooted to God's love, we don't just bask in our security. Rather, we are encouraged to follow the adventure of serving God, to take risks, to live boldly as we seek to walk in the good works God has planned for us so that we might exist for the praise of his glory.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Can you think of a time in your life when you have felt "rooted and founded" in God's love? What helps you to know, deep inside, that you are loved by God? How does this love empower you to live boldly for god?

PRAYER: O Lord, may I be rooted in and founded upon your love. May my roots grow deeply into your love, drawing sustenance and strength. May my life rest firmly on the faithful foundation of your love, so that I might have confidence to live boldly and creatively for you. Amen.

Image courtesy of Laity Lodge, one of our sister programs in the Foundations for Laity Renewal.