A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed … some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Matthew 13:3-6 (NIV).
Over the years I’ve seen many people accept the Good News about salvation in Jesus Christ, embrace Him in a burst of emotion, then fall away. According to the statistician, George Barna, about half of the people in North America who say they’re born again are people who have fallen away, i.e. they do not attend church, rarely read God’s Word, rarely pray, and live lives that are much the same as people who don’t know Jesus as their personal Lord and Saviour. Thus the person with a superficial heart is the person who joyfully receives Christ but “lasts only a short time” Matthew 13:21.
When our family lived in Toronto, we stayed with a godly lady called Mrs. Caples. Mrs. Caples’ first husband, Carl Close, accepted Christ as his Lord and Saviour at an Amy Lee Stockton and Rita Gould Rally at Kingsville United Church in 1932. There were approximately two-hundred other people who gladly accepted Christ as their Lord and Saviour at this rally. Several years later the organizers of the rally followed up to see how the converts were doing. To their amazement they discovered only one person had stuck to his commitment – Carl Close. Everyone else had fallen away! They had joyfully received the Word but lasted only a short time. The seed had penetrated and germinated but there was no depth so it died.
The question is why? Why do some people receive the Word then fall away? Matthew 13:21 indicates it’s because of “trouble or persecution.” People fall away from Christ because their hearts have been troubled by set-backs, adversity, worries, prejudice or hurtfulness. This may have happened to you. Years ago you accepted Christ as Lord and Saviour but your emotions wore off, some difficulties came along, and now there’s nothing to show for it. It can happen easily: An argument with someone in the church. A pastor who disappointed you. Church conflict. A husband who mocked you. A boss who made you work on Sunday. A family member who accused you of fanaticism. A university professor who undermined your faith. A friend who distanced himself. And so on.
So what? If a person has a superficial heart, why is that a problem and why should something be done about it? Because God has given us His Word in order for us to yield a harvest of righteousness (cf. Matthew 13:23). The Word is sown in our hearts for us to act on it. So turn to Christ. Ask God to help you seek and find Him. For God hears the desire of the humble and strengthens their hearts (cf. Psalm 10:17).