Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

   by Jeannette Haley

   The Creator, in His infinite wisdom, has skillfully interwoven into all of His creation evidence of His character, love, beauty, power, and truth. If we would but open our spiritual eyes and spiritual ears, we would glean a never-ending array of valuable spiritual lessons from God’s creation. (For further study, read Romans 1:20; Psalms 19:1; 97:6; Acts 14:17.)

   Spring marks that time of the year when we plant lovers throw ourselves into the joys, and sometimes, heartaches, of planning, pruning and planting. This includes both house and hothouse plants because now is the time when they have to undergo changes. For some, these changes allow them to expand and reach their ultimate potential. Other plants, however, seem to possess certain undesirable characteristics that eventually agitate and disgust the most avid gardener.

   These contrary plants remind me of many Christians whom we have met through the years. I call them “hothouse Christians.” Like their botanical counterparts, they like to remain in the comfort of their cozy spiritual environment where they are protected from the elements of the “real world.” In this artificial world, they can exist in their pampered and self-indulgent little container without exerting much effort on their part.

   Tragically, “hothouse Christians” are the norm rather than the exception these days, due to the worldly, lukewarm, institutional church system, religious traditionalism, and the growing apostasy. Like potted plants that eventually need to be transplanted, they end up root- bound and grotesquely self-centered. Everything is about them. Their attitudes and actions give evidence that they believe the entire Universe, including God Himself, should revolve around them.

   When a root-bound plant is removed from its container, it maintains the same shape until the roots are separated, trimmed and cut. The same is true for “hothouse Christians” once they are forced outside of their little self-contained religious environments. If they lack at least some semblance of character, they will not survive the initial shock of being shaken out of their self-centered, complacent, prideful former existence. They cry, whine, pout, and in a fit of anger, falsely accuse God (or those who minister truth to them) or slump into a pity party to end all pity parties. In other words, they refuse to GROW UP.

   Hothouse plants are grown with the ultimate goal of being planted outdoors, so that they can reach their fullest maturity and potential, be productive or fruitful, and multiply. It’s always a joy to see such plants take to new soil conditions, the elements, and rapidly take root, and grow. But, there are always those that, if they could, would stick out their tongues and scream, “Blech! I don’t want to be planted here! I want my own way, and I want God to bless it! I don’t want the wind of the Holy Spirit to rustle my leaves, forcing me to become strong and productive, and I don’t want the winds of adversity either, so that I can mature. I want to feel good! I want to be happy! I don’t want to be accountable for myself, and I certainly don’t want to trust God for my life! I want my own way—every day!  Whaa, whaa, whaa!”

   “Hothouse Christians” just want to sit in their little “pew” pots and enjoy smelling their own “religious fragrance.” They don’t want to be disturbed, nor do they desire to be stirred up. They would rather be bored to death than challenged with great truths and a deeper knowledge of God. After all, that would elicit a response from them. They might have to line up to the Word of God or decide to do what is right concerning others, which usually means it will cost them something. Besides, most of them have been lulled into a spiritual trance state by the soft preaching of easy-believism and cheap grace.

    The truth is, “hothouse Christians” lack pluck. They lack grit. They lack the spiritual fortitude and courage it takes to dig their roots down deep into the Scriptures where they can be established regardless of the storms of life. “Hothouse Christians” are wimps who would rather do anything than simply trust and obey, because that means they would have to take the initiative in their spiritual lives. They would have to get outside of their complacent selves, stir themselves up to seek, knock and ask. People, it takes courage to be a real Christian. It takes courage to overcome the world, the flesh and the devil. It takes courage to haul ourselves up to meet every challenge that God allows to come our way. Real Christianity is not for wimps.

   This wishy-washy, so-called “Christianity” that is preached from most pulpits today is producing an assembly line of insipid “hothouse Christians” who wilt and fade away at the first sign of adversity. If you take such a “hothouse” individual and plant him or her where the sun shines every day, he or she soon forgets the One who bought him or her with a price. Their philosophy is “fun, fun, fun in the sun, sun, sun.” But, when the heat is turned up and they begin to reap what they have sown, or when problems come (and they surely will) they fade away. They can’t handle even the slightest bit of adversity. Such individuals soon forget to be thankful for their blessings. In other words, lacking character, they have “no root” in themselves, Matthew 13:6. Don’t bother bringing the needs of others less fortunate before them because they are too busy lavishing themselves with expensive toys in their endless pursuit of pleasure. In the end, they either wither away from adversity or the vanity and emptiness of it all. Their soul becomes as dry as dust.

   Plant a “hothouse Christian” in a wet climate, and the temptation to live without putting down deep roots is persistent. After all, it’s easier to just drink up what is freely available rather than thrust one’s roots deep into the soil in order to tap into a consistent water source. This shallow type of Christian allows the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches to choke out the Word just as a weak plant is easily choked out of existence by weeds.

   Some very beautiful, yet fragile hothouse plants, seem to be special targets for destructive garden pests. You plant them one day and they are gobbled up by the next. These represent the type of “hothouse Christian” that outwardly appears to have it all together according as man sees. But, God looks at the heart. He is neither impressed nor deceived by outward appearance, including the clever, self-serving games we all know how to play in order to make a good impression or get our own way. This type of “hothouse Christian” hears the Word of the kingdom on a consistent basis, but because he or she lacks understanding, Satan is able to snatch the Word that was sown in his or her heart.  (See Matthew 13:19.)

    Finally, there are those “hothouse Christians” who do hear the Word, understand it, and who bear fruit.  (See Matthew 13:23.) Hopefully, you are such a plant in God’s glorious garden. Perhaps you started out in a sheltered “hothouse” environment, but as you grew, your “container” became too small. You longed to thrust your roots down deeper into God’s rich soil, to plumb the depths of His Word and to know Him in a greater, vibrant, personal way. Perhaps the day came when you were transplanted by His Spirit to where you could thrive through every type of adversity. You have been tested and proven by the Hand of the Master Gardener and now your sweet fragrance is the joy of His heart.

   Ask the Lord to show you if you are truly planted where He wants you or if you are languishing from being root- bound. Are you truly established in the garden of His kingdom, or are you insisting on having your own way as a “hothouse Christian?”