Luke 8:13 And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away.

Do you garden? I have been at it now for over twenty five years. My only regret is that I didn’t start earlier. To plant something in the spring and then pick something you can benefit from in the fall is a living marvel. Every spring when I start to clean up the yard and get the garden ready for planting I find sprouts from the previous year coming up all over the place. It is amazing what a plant is able to grow up from. A tiny crack in the concrete will have a shoot coming up from it because a seed fell in there and there was enough dirt and water to get it going. Quite often I will leave them to see how well they will do. They don’t do well. They start out fine but they don’t prosper. There is no place for the roots to go. The little bit of dirt they germinated in does not contain enough nutrients to make it thrive. They get spindly and if they survive the season they still will not bear fruit.

Jesus compares this kind of plant with those who hear the Gospel and right away they grab onto it and for all appearances they seem to be solidly rooted in Christ as true believers. They have heard the promise of eternal life, of joy in Christ, of the forgiveness of all their sins. Who wouldn’t want that? What they failed to hear,m or what they were not told, was that real faith will hang on even when it is the cause of trouble in one’s life. Jesus here, calls it a time of testing. God is in the business of testing our faith. It is very easy to say “I believe”. But the proof of that pudding will be perseverance when faith is challenged. Matthew calls it “tribulation or persecution on account of the word”. That is, the troubles in life are a direct result of faith in Jesus. The choice is clear. You can put an end to the trouble by turning your back on Jesus or you can stay with Christ and have difficulty. Those without root will always choose ease. They have nothing to make them choose otherwise.

Note a few things about all this:

1) God tests our faith. He is not interested in fair weather friends. Faith in Jesus Christ is not real if it is only alive when times are good. God is in the ferreting business.

2) Trials are going to come and if people are willing to jettison God out of their lives for the sake of getting rid of difficulty then they never had God in the first place. And that is why God sends the test. He wants real Christians who really follow Him and love Him more than anything, including peace and safety.

3) When we give the Gospel and some respond right away with great joy and excitement we need to carefully teach them the cost of discipleship. When we give the Gospel we must be sure not to give the impression that life is a happy fest. Happiness, yes, but not because there is n trouble. It is happiness in Christ in the midst of great trouble. We are to invite people to come and die for Jesus so that we might live with Him forever. We must never go light on the cost of discipleship because we are afraid of not getting converts. The converts that come through an incomplete and happy face caricature of the Christian life will not be real in any case.

4) There will always be false believers and those who for awhile give the impression of being genuine but who cannot stand the day of difficulty. This does not necessarily mean that we have taught badly or sold the Gospel short. No matter how plainly we say things there will always be those who will misunderstand.