This pastoral passage was written for LRBC for September 23 2018.
In the second scenario of Jesus’ parable, people who follow Jesus for a time only to later turn back are likened to seeds that grow but never develop deep roots. They grow for a time but they soon wither and die when the heat of the sun grows strong (Matt. 13:5, 20-21).
What is this ‘shallow-rooted’ faith? In Jesus’ day, it was seen in those crowds who followed Jesus for the sake of his miracles and blessings, but left him when he became too challenging or when association with him became dangerous.
Today, we see it when people fade out of Christianity when the inconvenience, or life crises, or social unacceptability becomes too great for them. They simply do not have the resources to push through the dry and difficult times, much like a plant without a strong and deep root system.
This underlines the importance of growing in grace and staying well connected to God. Proper use of the ‘means of grace’ are vital. Things like prayer, singing, Bible reading, learning, communion, church gatherings, and Christian friendships are God-appointed activities by which we can be enriched and strengthened in our faith. In other words, they help us to develop the ‘deep roots’ that enable us to persevere through thick and thin. These are to be practiced regularly, not as mere routine but with proper faith that they will cultivate in us what God intends by them.
If we fail to use these, on what do we base our strength for endurance? Ourselves? How will we expect to last the distance? (cf. Jeremiah 17:5-8). Without these things we are not equipped for the long hike that is the Christian’s lifelong following of Jesus. We won’t make it to the end, nor be of any help to others. Prepare for the long haul – use the things God has given us for growth and grace!