I have often thought about Christians who left the faith. I’m certain they didn’t plan to leave. Circumstances, or the unexpected, simply overwhelmed them. But you, my dear reader, can probably name a score of people who left. Paul saw the danger and urged us to “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).
When I see a Christian fall away I am anguished. How I wish I could have prevented it! How I wish I had known the right thing to say. Often, however, by the time they contemplate leaving, it is too late. Perhaps, I have often thought, I could tell them some things before the crisis sweeps in, so they will know what to expect: So, with that in mind, here are some things that I have always wanted to say:
- Determine at the start that you will serve God for life: Jesus called on us to deny ourselves, take up his cross, and follow him (Matthew 16:24). Right now you need to determine to live and serve Christ for life before the hard times come.
- Never underestimate the power of loneliness: A young woman’s husband cheated on her. She left him. I understood. A year later, however, she was living with another man. “Was he a Christian?” I asked. “No.” “Any prospect of my studying the Bible with him?” “No.” What happened, I asked. She admitted, “I was just so lonely.” Dear reader, there are worse things than being alone. What we need instead is to nourish our loneliness with a closer relationship with God.
- Don’t forget who you are, and who you serve: We are “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20). There is no higher calling!
- Someone in the Church will disappoint you; that does not give you the right to disappoint others. In other words, two wrongs do not make a right. It doesn’t matter if someone else is hypocritical; that has no bearing on your commitment to Christ.
- If you are tempted to cheat on your spouse, remember, it was not God who suggested that this other person was a “soul mate.” The wise man depicts the lips of an adulteress as “dripping honey” (Proverbs 5:3,4). A woman declared: “When I’m with (this other man), he makes me happy, and doesn’t God want me to be happy?” Let me reassure you, a nice person does not break up a marriage.
- Still, it will be hard. Expect that: We are encouraged to “run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1). Sometimes hard times and opposition seem to emerge as a harsh surprise to Christians. Yet the Bible never promised us a rose garden. In fact, it suggests that we will have to struggle at times to make it.
- Without question, the Christian life is worth it: At the end of your life, you will be able to look back and say that serving Jesus was worth it.
I once knew an elderly gentleman, a faithful Christian, who was deaf. At his funeral I was able to say, “The first words Curtis Hendrix will ever hear will be the words of his Lord saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21). Hearing those words will be worth it. Don’t quit!