“But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.”
– Mark 4:17
In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus explained in Mark 4:14-20 how some people hear the word of God, but fail to establish roots in Christianity that endure.
Jesus said that some people hear the word of God, but the devil and the cares of the world immediately take it away.
Others hear the word and “receive it with joy” immediately, but because they take no real root in God’s word – the trouble and persecution that comes with being a believer leads them to quickly fall away and lose their faith.
The Aramaic Bible in plain English translation of the above verse adds more context.
“And they have no root in themselves, but they abide for a while, and when there is distress or persecution because of the word, they are soon subverted.”
– Mark 4:17
Subverted is a good word, as it perfectly describes what the devil does. The word subverted means to undermine the power and authority of an established system or institution.
In this case, Satan is trying to undermine the authority of God. The devil is trying to take away the power of God’s word.
“For what is the hope of the hypocrite, though he hath gained, when God taketh away his soul?”
Hearing God’s word but not acting on it is useless. That is a Christian with no true roots. God expects those who receive the seed of his word to bear fruit from it.
Christians are to put God’s word into action by treating others right, helping the poor, the ill and the needy. Christians are called to develop grace and forgiveness in our hearts.
In short, to be living examples of God’s word through our works, attitudes, minds, and hearts.
“Blessed is the one who does not fall away on account of Me.”
– Matthew 11:6
Jesus was well aware that the Christian faces immense pressure in the world to let go of God’s word and not follow Christ.
Christians face a never-ending stream of persuasion to not follow God’s rules and do as otherworldly people do. The secular world wants to remove any reference to God from every area of public life possible.
They don’t want reminders suggesting that the things they are doing might be sinful.
Not only was Jesus aware of this, but he knew things were going to get worse, that more people were going to fall away amid increasing pressure to wipe out Christianity.
This is clearly happening all around the world today.
Jesus said those who persevere to the end will be rewarded:
“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”
– Matthew 24:9-13