Something that I have observed over the last couple decades, is how it is people walk away from the faith, or at least from fellowship. Just like coming to faith, the departure is in steps or degrees.
The first step: Self Replaces Others.
I have seen this over and over, and I get kinda leery when I see someone “taking more time and attention for themselves.” I’m not talking about being healthy, but when I see people being obsessed with how they look, or, they look like they are putting themselves “on the market”… look out! Beware of the disease of self.
The second step: The Fundamentals Become Optional.
Keith Green said, “going to church doesn’t make you a christian, any more than going to McDonald’s makes you a hamburger.” It’s true, going to church does not make you a Christian, but it can help you be a healthy and fruitful Christian –if you are participating in a healthy community. It’s in fellowship that we “stimulate one another to love and good deeds“, and its why we are exhorted in scripture to “not forsake our gathering together.” -(Heb.10:24,25)
Yes, Christian, God wants you to go to church. But going to church, is only one fundamental involved in Christian discipleship. When the disciplines of serving others, worship, prayer, and bible reading, become optional,… look out, you are drifting, and while your end goal may not be walking away from the faith, your future will be determined by the steps you are taking. They are either steps in a healthy spiritual direction, or an unhealthy one… be assured you won’t get to your destination by accident.
The third step: The Faith Simply Doesn’t Measure Up.
After making yourself the most important thing (step one), then becoming lax in the fundamentals (step two), the third step is almost a guarantee,… you become cynical, like the progression laid out in Psalm 1:1, the final attitude becomes one of self-assured cynicism. The final attitude that the church is filled with uncaring, self-righteous, hypocrites,… and the need to associate with them, or God,… well, what’s the point? Who needs them after all?
If you find yourself somewhere along this dangerous progression… it’s not too late for you. Repent, and go back and do the things that you formerly did. Jesus says to you: “Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place -unless you repent.” -Revelation 2:5
The fatal fourth step: Insulting The Spirit Of Grace.
Read carefully the warnings in the following verses.
“For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY.” And again, “THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE.” It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” –Hebrews 10:26-31 (emphasis mine)
How people get to this place is easy to watch and even chronicle. It’s a matter of steps or degrees.
It’s the “why” that I’ll never understand.