Over the last few years I’ve seen a handful of friends walk away from the church, and I don’t mean walking away from the church only, but walking away from God and renouncing their faith. Mind you, most of them were zealous and committed believers, people I admired and people who helped me grow in my own faith, but something happened along the way and they are no longer around.
Why did they walk away? Was it hurts from the church? An immoral relationship? Money? Doubt?
I don’t know.
The reason can be many. Plus, I don’t make the judgment calls. That I’ll leave to God. Nonetheless, people fall away. It happened in the first century church and it still happens today.
Some people walk away from the faith rather quickly, especially if they are young believers with shallow convictions, but for others the process is much slower, especially for more seasoned christians. This is what I call the “gradual drift” from the faith, and that’s what I want to address in this blog post.
People don’t just wake up one day and say, “You know what, today I feel like giving up my faith in God. Forget Jesus, forget the cross, forget it all. I just want to live for myself!”
It usually doesn’t happen this way, at least from what I’ve observed over the years. Instead, people slowly drift, distance themselves, and eventually follow their own deceitful hearts.
Turning your Ears from Scripture
In Hebrews 2:1, the bible says, “We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.” People drift from God when they fail to hold to His teachings. In fact, the verse stresses that we must pay careful attention to what we’ve heard. Sloppy and inconsistent bible study can only do so much. This only creates a shallow faith and a boring christian life. And when your spiritual life is boring and shallow, drifting naturally happens.
An active christian life not only consists of carefully listening to God’s word, but also living it out daily. Prayer and scripture are your spiritual sources of life. If your ears and heart are not tuned to God’s voice, you’ll begin to listen to other voices out there, including satan’s.
Turning your Ears to the World
Your ears become sensitive to the world and it’s deceitful teachings when you stop listening to sound doctrine. 2 Timothy 4:3-4 highlights this issue:
“For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”
When you trade God’s teachings for the world’s, you no longer live for Him, but for yourself. You become your own God, and you do whatever pleases your desires. In fact, you’ll surround yourself with people who only tell you what you want to hear, anything but the truth.
A Sinful and Unbelieving Heart
One clear sign that someone is drifting from the faith is a hardened heart. A hardened heart is sinful, unbelieving, and hostile to God.
Hebrews 3:12-13 reads: “See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”
When you drift from God, you invite sin into your life, which darkens your understanding and distances you from God and his people. One of the major signs you see when a person is drifting is their lack of commitment to church related events or gatherings.
The good news? There is always a second chance with God. It’s never too late. Although He calls us to live a godly life, He is also full of grace, patience, and encouragement. Not to mention, He instructs us to extend that grace and encouragement to others, especially to those going through a dark episode.
Encouragement is HUGE!!!
Christianity is not an individual journey. It’s about teamwork. It’s about community. It’s about unity. It’s about being there for each other through the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Speaking the truth in love, extending genuine concern, and providing continual encouragement can change the course of a person’s life while God works on their heart.
Let’s stay anchored, let’s encourage, and let’s move forward together until the race is over.