Stony Ground?

Do you not feel the urgency of the moment?


“And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.”

   - Mark 4.16, 17

The greatness of my zeal for your salvation is known to Him alone Who gave it, and my longing for the advance of your instruction; but since, in accordance with the Lord’s teaching, tribulation and persecution have arisen for the word’s sake, no other advice is now fitting for you, save that you beware lest you be that stony ground, which through the poorness of its soil cannot nourish the seed which it receives.

  - Columbanus, Letter to His Disciples, Irish, 7th century

The past couple of years have seen more books railing against the faith of Christ and the idea of God than in all my years as a Christian. Their titles have appeared on best-seller lists and their writers are treated like heroes among the cognoscenti of the academy and the media.

The secular world has put the Church on notice, that it’s had just about enough of our poking around the public square and messing with the morals of the land.

For three decades conservative Christians have believed that the way to moral retrenchment and cultural change was through the government. We’ve managed to get the right people in office and on the courts, and still the erosion of traditional values and the decline of our culture continue.

We just don’t get it. Change comes through revival, which comes at God’s pleasure, pursuant to His people’s repenting of their sins and pleading with Him for renewal. We quote the verses like we believe them: “If My people, who are called by My name...” But then we act as if they aren’t really true, ignore their calls to repent, refuse to persevere in seeking the Lord for revival, and continue to believe that the next election will turn the corner and everything will begin to change.

Will the Word of God ever pierce the stony hearts of the contemporary Church, so that we actually begin to hear what God is calling us to, and to do what God commands? I am persuaded that there is no other advice fitting for us than to examine ourselves and the quality of the soil of our souls.

We must not retreat in the face of the boasting and taunting of our foes. And we cannot continue our cavalier approach to the morality or message of the Gospel. We must bear fruit for Christ, or we will be swept away and the stony ground of our hearts cast onto the trash heap of history.

Do you not feel the urgency of the moment? There is, indeed, no other advice “now fitting for you, save that you beware lest you be that stony ground, which through the poorness of its soil cannot nourish the seed which it receives.”

Psalm 102.1-4 (Leominster: “Not What My Hands Have Done”)
Lord, hear my prayer and cry; hide not Your face from me!
In my distress and tears I sigh – Lord, hear my earnest plea!
My days like smoke blow past; my bones are scorched with sin.
My heart, like wilted, withered grass, bends low to earth again.

Lord, show us our unbelief, and turn us with all our hearts again to You! Adapted from Patrick, Confession

T. M. Moore, Principal
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[1] Walker, p. 27.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT. 

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Judgment

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