Anyone Who Has Ears Should Listen (Part 2)

(Read part 1 here)

Second Kind: Hear Today, Gone Tomorrow
The seed sown on patches of rock is someone who hears the Word and welcomes it at once with joy.  But such a person has no root deep down and does not last; should some trial come, or some persecution on account of the word, at once he falls away. (Matthew 13:20-21)

Years ago, I got hooked on this reality show called The Biggest Loser (where overweight contestants compete to lose the most pounds).  I was just fifteen pounds over my weight limit then, but the show inspired me to get back into shape again, to live a healthier lifestyle by exercising and eating right.  So I bought myself a new pair of running shoes and dumbbells.  I determined to jog at least three times a week, to do a little weight training to tighten my muscles, and to follow every advice they gave on the show regarding proper nutrition.

It was exciting at first.  I woke up earlier than usual to exercise.  I carefully chose what I ate.  And this went on for weeks.

Until reality set in.

The path to physical fitness turned out to be more difficult than I had anticipated.  There were just too many challenges to deal with.  Waking up earlier than usual became harder and harder to do, especially when I slept late the night before.  If I had the energy to exercise, I found myself not having the time to do it.  If I had the time, I did not have the energy.  And the eating part?  It was just easier and cheaper to buy fast food.

I could not get past all these challenges.  So I slowly went back to my old, comfortable ways.

This is the second kind of hearers: those who hear what is being communicated to them, but somehow still expect the path to growth to be smooth and easy.

Such people only end up disappointed and discouraged.  And back to where they were before they heard the truth.

Let’s set the record straight.

The path to spiritual growth is always more difficult than you can anticipate.  Jesus said that the road to salvation is hard and narrow.  It should not come as a surprise, therefore, when you sometimes find this path particularly challenging.

Here’s a fact.

Life is difficult.

Whether you are a believer or an atheist, that fact remains.  God never promised to make life less difficult for His children, only to make it more purposeful.

Here’s another fact.

Persecution is part and parcel of being a Christian.

St. Paul said, “Anybody who tries to live in devotion to Christ is certain to be persecuted.” (2 Timothy 3:12)  Which can also mean that if you haven’t been ridiculed for following Jesus, then think.  You probably haven’t been following Him radically enough.

So expect to encounter bumps along the road.

The truth of the Word of God in your life must inevitably be tested by circumstances or called into question by others.  But take courage.  Know that you are in the right path.  Trials and persecutions are never meant to kill your faith; they’re meant to strengthen it.

Keep holding on to God’s promises no matter what.  Remember, His Word will endure forever.  But your problems?  They too shall pass.

(Go to part 3)

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