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  • Writer's pictureCity Church Contributor

Sacred Conversation – Pt. 5

Mark 4:5-6

5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.

16 In a similar way these are the ones on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy; 17 and they have no firm root in themselves, but are only temporary; then, when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately they fall away.

Years ago, I read Richard Foster’s classical work on the inner life, “The Celebration of Discipline.” It began with a faith-quaking statement. “The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people.” According to His parable, Jesus would agree. However, Jesus speaks of “depth” quite differently than we usually do. We associate spiritual depth with superior intellect and with the ability to grasp hard-to-understand concepts. Jesus defines depth as “stick-to-it-ness.” As staying power. Consistency. Those with depth follow through in obedience. They walk in faithfulness even when it is difficult or costly.

The measure of our hearing is not how quickly we respond, but whether we follow through with obedience to what we have heard. It brings to mind the well-intentioned Christ-follower eager to display their new found passion. They hear the Word, and in tidal wave of joyful emotion, make big bold promises to God and to others. They look so promising, but the commitments are short-lived. They grow fast. And sadly, they wither fast.

Why do they shrink back so quickly? Sometimes the demands of obedience and life-change are a price they are unwilling to pay. Other times, obedience brings a level of social discomfort or peer pressure under which they wilt. They are like a plant with no root scorched by the blistering sun.

According to Jesus, spiritual depth comes from having roots. When a seed is planted, it comes to life and begins to burrow its way into the darkness of the soil. This is a picture of allowing God’s Word to seep and to penetrate to the deepest parts of our soul. In this, we allow God’s truth to take hold within us. This is not a momentary whim of spiritual ecstasy, but last life change. When God’s Word takes root within us, it influences all that we are: our identity, our thoughts, our behaviors, our priorities, even our hopes and dreams.

And when the droughts of life come, as they always do, we do not wither because we are rooted deeply in Christ. Our roots give us 2 things: stability and sustenance. And so, when the pressures of obedience bear down on us like the rays of the searing sun, we continue to walk in faithfulness because our lives are nourished and held strong in the hidden places. And that, my friends, is what it means to be “deep.”

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