by Bill Denton
The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult, and left untried—G. K. Chesterton, quoted in “What’s Wrong with the World,” Christianity Today, Vol. 39, no. 1.
Jesus once told a story about a farmer who went out to plant his crops. As he scattered the seed some of it fell in places where it could not grow and produce like that which fell on the good soil. One of those “soil-types” he called “thorny ground.” In His explanation of the parable, Jesus revealed that the thorny ground was actually descriptive of a kind of human heart: It’s one that gets all caught up in the cares of the world, in a quest for riches and things that simply consume a person. The seed of God’s word can take root and grow in such soil, but all the other things overpower it and choke it out.
Unfortunately, that seems to be where many Christians live. They’re all caught up in the myriad of things vying for attention, for interest, for involvement, for our very lives. Sadly, many people willingly give themselves to the pursuit of everything and anything except God and His will. Ask some of those folks what the problem is and they’re likely to give all sorts of excuses, but the truth is that they’ve found the pursuit of God harder, more difficult than all those other things.
The world offers much more in terms of instant gratification and pleasure than God does. God calls us to eternal life, which surely brings to mind something different than the “right-now” offer of so many things around us. Little wonder that so many people fall for deceptive promises.
G. K. Chesterton was right. It’s not that Christianity has been tried and found wanting; it’s been found difficult. It’s been left untried. People have opted for substitutes of vanity. They’ve settled for promises of smoke and mirrors. It’s not that there is nothing better available, it’s that many simply do not want to put in the effort required.
The very real truth is that faith is not some psychological gimmick of imagination. It is trust in things divine to the point that one is willing to live—to actually live—according to what he believes. It is often a hard and narrow road to travel, but it is the only path to real life.
Christianity simply won’t work unless your faith has some “umph!” to it. People who claim to believe but who don’t put their faith to work are those who not only miss the more obvious blessings, but they never know the deeply satisfying things of God, the comforting and encouraging presence of God, nor the truly life-changing rewards of God. Perhaps a little spiritual self-assessment is in order. Are you wrapped up in anything other than God? If so, it’s slowly choking the life out of your faith.
© Copyright 2001, Dr. Bill Denton
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