“The seeds on the rocky soil represent those who hear the message and receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they believe for a while, then they fall away when they face temptation.” (Luke 8:13 NLT)
This section always breaks my heart, mainly because I’ve seen these people. Maybe you have too.
One minute they’re on fire, and then it happens… some trial, some encounter, perhaps even some one who rocks their fragile faith. And having no depth to their faith, they wither and wilt before our eyes. It’s heartbreaking for everyone.
But is it preventable? Maybe not in every case, but what if we tried to identify what leads to shallow roots and took steps to help people grow deeper roots (ourselves included)? Here’s a conversation worth having… and here are some conversation starters on causes and potential solutions:
– Wrong Expectations. Some folks come to Christ thinking that life will be a bed of roses thereafter. No more suffering… I can get anything I ask for (as long as I tack on, “…in Jesus’ name” at the end of my prayers).
Solution: Tell people the truth, or let Scripture tell them. There will be suffering. At no point do you find Scripture telling us any different. Jesus himself guarantees it, “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers.” (Matt 5:11 NLT)
– Wrong Focus. Especially in new Christians… they often confuse activity with growing deeper in Christ. Why would they think that? Perhaps it’s because they see more experienced Christians doing the same thing! (This would be a great time to reflect on whether or not you’ve fallen into this trap as well).
Solution: Define “activity,” and be deliberate in helping new Christians choose well. If our sole goal is to get them involved in every church activity, we’re actually contributing to their shallowness. Rather, we should encourage activities that will lead to depth, especially at first (e.g., a mentoring relationship with a more mature Christian, a small group devoted to figuring out how to live what’s in Scripture, etc.). We rush to see fruit, when we should be thinking roots!
– Wrong Motive. The human race is hard-wired for self-preservation. So it’s no surprise that many people come believers simply to avoid hell. But if our only motivation in believing is to avoid hell, we’ve missed the majority of what it means to be a Christian.
Solution: We must remember that Jesus’ Great Commission (Matt 28:18–20) is a call to make disciples, not believers. I’ll let you ponder whether that difference is significant or not, but consider this: believers change their minds… disciples change their lives. Which one do you think will have deeper roots?
What other causes do you see? How can we build deep roots in our own lives and in the lives of others? Join in the conversation!