The big idea of Roots Season
Here is the first half of the big idea, the Roots Rhythm we focus on during Roots Season:
God is proactively running a campaign to connect, heal, and bless everyone on earth. He isn't just making rules and judging people by how well they keep them.
When people assume God is basically a scorekeeper and judge, they read the Bible as the book that tells us how he will keep score. How much will a good deed raise my score? How badly will a bad deed hurt it?
People may read the Bible that way for a whole lifetime without realizing that something different and bigger is going on. The Bible as a whole is not a glorified list of God's rules and standards. It's a story, the story of God proactively working his campaign strategy to bless the world.
Here is the other half of the big idea of Roots Season:
God's campaign strategy is to create his own campaign team, connect it tightly to himself, and bless the whole human race through it.
God does send some of his blessing directly to the whole human race, but most of the really important blessing he gives to his team to do the spreading to the whole human race. We call this the "Abraham Strategy" (not because Abraham invented it, which he didn't) because he was the person through whom God launched it.
The Abraham Strategy involves God in human life at the group level. He puts his own group (his campaign team) in among all the other groups, and in the end, his group will bless them all and unite (or connect) them all.
Bottom line of the big idea of Roots Season:
We see ourselves in Christ as fulfillments of God's ancient promise to bless the world through Abraham's descendants. We live in SYNC with God's intentions when he made that promise.
In SYNC with Jesus, we are rooted in Abraham. "And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you." (Galatians 3.29)
When you SYNC, when you See Yourself iN Christ as a fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham, and you realize you are participating in the work of Abraham's descendants, which is to bless everybody. That is your cause. You are caught up in it, energized by it, and delighted every time you have even a small success.
You want a better world? So does God. Got a plan for a better world? So does God. What are the odds that SYNCing with his plan will do more to improve the world than coming up with plans of our own?
How does this big idea actually work?
If you guessed we would say, "Through Jesus," you were right! But look what amazing surprises lie behind those two simple words.
God's ancient promise is, "Through you [Abraham] all families of the earth will be blessed." (Genesis 12.3) Jesus was a descendant of Abraham and did far more than any other descendant to bless the world.
Best of all, Jesus redefined the "descendants of Abraham" on spiritual lines, not a physical bloodline. People who accept Jesus as the messianic King, the key person God sent to fulfill his promise to bless the world, are true "descendants of Abraham." They all have a share in the blessing process.
People who don't accept Jesus as the spearhead of the Messianic campaign are going against God's strategy to bless the world. They are not following the person God sent to lead the implementation of his strategy. They are not going with the flow of the story of the world in the way God is writing it. They are out of SYNC.
The true descendants of Abraham have his spiritual DNA, which is to trust God to do things in his way. That is how Abraham was trusting God when he had no clue why God was telling him to sacrifice his son Isaac. His security was not in what he understood, but in God's ability to make things turn out right even when it looked impossible.
So how do we get that DNA, that level of trust?
God gives it to us through Christ as part of his plan to keep his promise to bless the world. Like branches being grafted into a tree, we get grafted into the group that descended from Abraham (Romans 11.17-21). Once a graft takes, the grafted branch is able to draw life from the tree root and produce fruit as part of the tree. We become the "true Jews," the inward or spiritual Jews, whether we were born Jewish or were grafted in (Romans 2.28-29).
Another way of talking about that graft is to talk about the "Spirit of Jesus." Jesus, the center of God's campaign to fulfill his promise to Abraham, puts his Spirit into us. The Spirit gradually changes us to resemble him and share in his campaign work--connecting, healing, and blessing the world.
It's as if we are turning into great writers because the "spirit of Shakespeare" has somehow come on us, or great conquerors because the "spirit of Genghis Khan" has entered us. Shakespeare and Genghis Khan cannot send their spirits to empower anyone today because they are dead.
Jesus can send his Spirit because he is still alive, resurrected from the grave. So he is the permanent promise fulfiller, the permanent spearhead of God's campaign, not just a person who taught others that they should try as hard as they can to bless the world. And his campaign strategy for fulfilling the promise today is to put his Spirit, the Holy one-of-a-kind Spirit, into his campaign team to purify each team member, hold the group together, direct the team in its assignments, and give all team members the power to do their assignments.
That's why we don't congratulate ourselves when we bless the world. It isn't really us who are doing it. Jesus's Spirit working in us does it, so he gets the credit for it. We are just thankful that we got to be on the team and empowered by the Spirit to contribute something to the campaign process as God keeps his ancient promise to bless the world.
When you SYNC (See Yourself iN Christ), you see that you are included in the campaign team, the group Christ is directing to bless the world in his name. You don't have to chase security or significance any more. You've got them. So relax, enjoy them, thank God for them, and bless the world by helping it find the security and significance it is craving.
1. Shouldn't all groups/races/nations have the same chance? Why doesn't God bless them all directly?
That's probably how we would have drawn it up. Give each group a piece of the truth and eventually the groups will fit all the pieces together and get the big picture.
The trouble is that groups don't actually want the one big unifying picture. They want the partial picture that will work in their own favor and allow them to dominate other groups, or at least protect them from the attacks of other groups. The more power a group holds, the more tightly it clings to its own partial picture.
There is a long tradition of assuming God gave one nation or group a license to dominate others, but that is not the Abraham Strategy. Jesus gives no such license to his team, Abraham's descendants. He and they are definitely on a campaign but absolutely not on a crusade.
2. Won't the campaign team members get arrogant and condescending if they think God has chosen them to bless all the other groups?
Yes they will. That is such an obvious and serious danger that God has set up a three-pronged defense to prevent it.
A. The campaign's origin
Team members have to remember why God launched the campaign in the first place. He loved the whole human race and the whole created world, not just the team members.
B. No bragging rights
God's Spirit changes team members inside at a deeper level than they can change themselves. The Spirit puts some of God's love into them. They become different people, not by working harder to be good but by opening up to the Spirit's influence. No bragging rights are involved. Their abilities to do campaign work are a gift to them, not an achievement, and the gift was not given to them because they deserved it. It was given so they would play a role on the team.
C. Required campaign methods
Team members have to realize that if they do campaign work in arrogant or condescending ways, they are working against the campaign goals, not for them. Their attitude gives the whole campaign a bad name. The campaign is not just about aiming at the right goals (connect, heal, bless) but using the right methods, namely, be unafraid to engage with people of all kinds, sense their pain, and share your stuff with them. That is why team members have to keep reading the Bible and listening to the Spirit's guidance within them.
3. Isn't the whole Roots idea a dangerous mistake?
The classic song "Imagine" (John Lennon) claims that roots are the problem in the world today--religious roots, ethnic roots, ideological roots, any kind of roots. They divide us.
As the song goes, instead of clinging to our roots, we should just imagine a better world of unity, peace, and freedom and call others to imagine it with us. “Imagine there's no heaven. . . no hell below us, above us only sky. . . nothing to kill or die for. . . and no religion too.” The hope of the song is that the vision of "all the people sharing all the world" will come true when enough people buy into it and let go of their roots.
By contrast, the big idea of Roots Season is to get rooted and stay rooted in Abraham's story, growing toward unity and peace from there.
Imagining is great. In fact, at the end of the SYNC annual cycle, we will devote a whole season to it--Vision Season. But our vision of the future is not just in our heads, and staying rooted in Abraham makes a better world more likely to come about, not less. Abrahamic roots provide life and strength to work for the vision.