A friend stumbled. He fell hard.
This is the story of the many who “fell away”. It is a burden to see, and it is impossible to live in content as loved ones turn from the Gospel. Yet the big question I ask myself is if I would end up in the same place, whether or not I would return to the pleasures of the world rather than seeking first the Kingdom of God.
The mistake we often make as “church goers” is the fact that many of us are just “church goers”. When we take one step back, we can see how messed up things are, or can be. I taste the lukewarm-ity, feel the emptiness, and who knew (sorry for cliche) that the silence could be so loud? When we strip away all the logistics of weekly church, what do we see? Nothing? Well, very close to that.
On Sunday morning, I walk into the church building and I hear the smooth guitar and deep drums. Many in the pews squint their eyes in reverence and sing with power, and sometimes even with the bonus hand raising. Nice, I thought, as I walked down the aisles. Oh, and then the pastor walks up and delivers a message of faith, and each individual nods their head, possibly adding a personal comment to the friend next to him. The pastor cracks a few jokes that helps the moment relate. It’s all good. Then the worship musicians come back up and ask people to come forth out of the pews to sing and praise God. The people do, some don’t, but the few matter right? So they stand shoulder to shoulder, faint smiles of content, and eyes sparkling as they stare into the projector screen. Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna in the highest! The people shout, arms high and “hearts abandoned”. Church is dismissed, and guess what? Rerun next week.
Many might ask, “What’s wrong? Seems normal.” Nothing’s wrong, but I want to look beyond the fluff of a service, and look deep into each individual’s heart. You see, the friend of mine came quite consistently to both Youth Group and Sunday Service, and in the corner of my eye, I see him with his hands raised. On occasions he even asked to pray for me during my struggles. Guess what? People know the right words to say, and people know the right things to do in order to look like a “good” person. But however, when I encounter them outside of the weekends, they are just like the rest of the world, sometimes even worse.
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. -James 3:9
You know what this tells me? I could very much be that person. Can’t we all? Take the step to look at your life, and find what you believe. Are we just living in the fluff of church? Are we playing the part of a Christian “religion”? Or are we really leaving the world behind and doing all things by faith, because of who Christ is?
It takes more than watching the actions of brothers and sisters to know them, for if their hand raising and poor feeding is for the purpose of playing “good”, then you just gotta ask what they believe. Yeah, actions speak louder than words, but the heart will drain both out, producing greater actions and words.
This is why the Church must examine what people really believe, for the appearance of many are very decieving. So we ought to be a body of Christ that flees from weekend Christianity, and find that dying hunger inside.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled-Matthew 5:6
We need to look for this hunger and fill it with Christ, following his Word and loving all. Only then can we help others to fill the hunger. Many have filled their souls with legalism, sin, and even works! And that is why so many fall away: they were never founded in the Gospel. And the scary thing is, did they ever believe at all?
I remember talking to the friend about faith and worship, and now, looking back, it hurts to know that he really didn’t have faith, only a realistic mask.
No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God-1 John 3:9
Do we believe that? If so, then it is joy to make disciples of Christ in the Church, and have an anguish for the sake of those who are lukewarm or who are those weekend Christians. Yeah, it will take rebuking, and it may drive those to turn away, but what God calls us to do is to be His Church, a holy body that lives for Him.
The biggest takeaway is for us to examine ourselves. And hey, there will be tons of garbage and sin! But what separates a “good” person from a Christian is that the follower of Christ will turn back to the Cross, running towards Christ for forgiveness, and actively seek a more Godly life. And that is what we ought to encourage our brothers and sisters with.
Plant seeds, and continue to grow yourself, so that when Christ returns that glorious day, He will smile and say, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”