As a pastor, I see the tragic cycle a little more than I care to admit. Usually, by the time I realize what has happened, it is too late to do anything about it. Don’t mistake my words for those of hopelessness, though, because God can change any situation. Are you wondering what cycle I am speaking of? Well, I am speaking of the cycle of when someone who calls themselves a Christian eventually leaves their faith behind. I know this is not always the end of the story, but it is sad when it happens.
In my profession, I feel a certain responsibility for people who are close to me and who are going through this struggle. I have been close to some who have gone down this path in life, and I can tell you that their characteristics become very familiar and noticeable when one looks at how they got to this place in life.
The story often starts the same way. A person who follows Christ begins to neglect things like scripture reading, regular prayer, and corporate worship. When this happens a general apathy begins to develop for spiritual growth just as a virus wears down an immune system. Then, the individual begins to create reasons why these things are no longer important, and even a waste of time. After a while, bitterness and anger develop for the Church and other believers. Then, the person in question looks at faith in a very inwardly focused manner; making statements like, “why am I doing this if it never benefits me…” Finally, an aversion for practically everything related to Christ emerges. Things like political involvement or advocacy replace regular spiritual growth (nothing wrong with political involvement or advocacy, it just can sometimes become and idol). In the end, the person claims to be an individual who formerly believed. An autopsy of their dead spiritual condition reveal that they were severely malnourished.
Sure, one could cite the fact there were people in the church who were hypocritical, or even the fact that someone hurt their feelings, but really if someone is grounded in Christ, then the object and center of faith should be Jesus and not the actions of others. Serve others, and look for Jesus in all situations.
The problem is, we often look at expressions of our faith as more of a hobby, or at least a very small part of us. We are called, as Christians, to continually cultivate our relationship with Jesus and others. A neglect of this fact leads us down a road of destruction.
Don’t allow yourself to fall into this trap. Stay strong. Admit you are weak.
Prayer for today: Father. Help me to stay strong in the faith and continually be dependent on you. Thank you for saving me. Amen.
This post was written by Rev DeCrastos. You can find his blog here: ministrysauce.com