Jesus left us with one command before he ascended into heaven. “Go and make disciples of all nations.” This presents us with a problem: we don’t know what a healthy disciple looks like, let alone how to make one. We also can’t give away what we don’t have ourselves. Before diving into making disciples, we need to know what we are aiming for.
So, what do healthy, flourishing disciples look like? It turns out, they sort of look like trees. At least they do to the author of Psalm 1. While the word disciple is not used, this psalm’s vision of a righteous person gives us a general idea of what Jesus wants us to be.
This is what a healthy disciple, a righteous and blessed person, looks like:
Psalm 1:3: He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.
What words come to mind when you think of a tree? Rooted. Slow. Solid. Permanent. Peaceful. Fruit in the long-term.
What comes to your mind when you think of our current culture? Scattered. Fast. Frantic. Disposable. Chaotic. Impatient.
Do you see the problem? Our modern world sounds more like this:
Psalm 1:4: Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away.
To be a disciple of Jesus is to live against the wind. It is to slow down. It is to think in the long-term rather than in the short-term. It is to extend our roots deep into the soil our God has provided for us.
So, what do we sink our roots into? The author of Psalm 1 invites us to do this:
Psalm 1:2: But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.
We tend to think of laws as a set of rules, but the Hebrews thought of the law (law meaning the Scriptures) as a path that God has marked out for us. The law is the way to being whole and rooted in God. The path’s foundations were laid down in the Old Testament, but they have been made clearer through the teachings of Jesus.
A healthy disciple of Jesus is rooted in God because he meditates on his teachings. Eugene Peterson, who wrote a fantastic book on the Psalms called Answering God, points out that the Hebrew word for “meditate” is based on the sound a lion makes as it sucks the marrow out of a bone. We are to root ourselves in, but also savor, the teachings of Jesus. We are to turn them over in our minds and taking in the nutrients, so that we may grow strong in the plan he has laid out for us.
We are to dig into God’s Word with delight so that we can grow our roots deep into his soil and we live out God’s solid and patient way of life.
Jesus, at the end of the Sermon on the Mount, describes a rooted life this way:
Matthew 7:24-25: Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on a rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.
A healthy disciple looks like both: a tree whose roots are sunk deep into God, as well as a house built on the firm foundation of His Word. Meditating on His Word from a place of deep delight draws us closer to the safety, security, and joy that we can find within him.
The question is: Are your roots deep enough to hold you throughout life’s storms? Or will you be blown away by the slightest puff of wind?
Call to Action
If Psalm 1 gives us a true description of what a disciple looks like, how does this psalm challenge you to live differently?What will you add to your life? More importantly, how will you simplify your life? What will you remove to bring yourself more in line with God’s vision?
Be personal and specific as you respond to this question.