Last week I wrote about the joyful weekend I had with some of my friends from college. It’s a joy to be with them because we are all still walking with the Lord. We’ve had ups and downs for sure, but this group of guys has stayed the course, doing the little but all important things to keep our walk with God growing for the past two decades.
Sadly, I have also been around some dear friends recently who have me really concerned. These, too, are life-long friends whom I have known for ten to twenty years. Unlike the friends I spent time with last weekend, these friends are either slowly drifting away from the Lord or have been distant for some time. It made me wonder, “What are the simple things that cause someone to drift from God?”
In other words, why does their behavior concern me? I believe they are at risk of falling away. I just don’t see how someone can really be walking with God if they are not doing the following two things.
Spend Time with God Daily (or often)
I just don’t see how someone can claim to be following Jesus when they are not spending time with Him. I’m not trying to be legalistic. I just honestly think if we love someone we will spend time with that person. The same is true with our God. I have a few life-long friends who are really not making time to spend time with God most days. I believe they are at risk of falling.
We all make time for what we prioritize. That truth has led me to eliminated the following phrase from my vocabulary: “I did not have time.” Instead I say, “I did not make time” or “I did not make that a priority.” These are more honest statements. If we do not make time for God, it means He is not a priority for us.
There are almost no excuses. Don’t blame your job, your kids, your busyness, your illness, your stress, your sleeplessness, etc. If the bulk of your Christian life is just what people see on the outside (just going to church, for instance) then you will simply be imitating what you think a Christian should be. This is dangerous. Seek God again by making time to meet with HIm.
Involved in a Church (True Christian Community)
I just don’t see how someone can claim to be following Jesus when they are not involved in a church. Now trust me; my understanding of church is very broad. I don’t care if it is a big church, small church, house church or what have you. But my definition for church is also very narrow. It’s not hanging our with your Christian friends and having”fellowship” playing video games, watching a football game, or going out to eat. Nor is it just pew-sitting on Sundays.
Being part of a church means being part of a community that worships and prays (upward), fellowships and studies the Bible (inward), and serves and evangelizes (outward). Sorry, but if you’re not part of a community doing these things then you are not part of a church. I have a few life-long friends that are not in real Christian community as I have described, and I believe they are at risk of falling.
There are almost no excuses. Don’t say you’re “searching.” Don’t blame your kids. Don’t say you’re busy or need the time for other things. Don’t say you need the family-time or need to rest. If you’re not in relationships with others doing the upward, inward, and outward things I described above, then your friendships are not helping you follow Jesus. Seek God again by getting involved in a church.
Tell Me What You Think
I could add a few more things to my list, but these two are the most foundational. Actually, before I would add to the list I would likely bring more clarification to these two things, making a few concessions statements regarding the possibility of doing these things legalistically and still being in danger (if not more danger) of falling away. Bottom line, however, these are the two things that concern me most with a number of my longtime friends.
Am I wrong? What would you add? What concerns you about your friends?
Justin Christopher is the director of Campus Renewal Ministries at the University of Texas and author of Campus Renewal: A Practical Plan for Uniting Campus Ministries in Prayer and Mission. He gives leadership to the Campus House of Prayer and the missional community movement at the University of Texas.
Eun-Hye Rho11 years ago
I think that falling away doesn’t necessarily come from whether we did what we needed to do. or if we did not do what brings us “closer” to God. ( if anything besides Jesus can bring us closer)
Coming from experience the only reason why some one would chose not to be with God is because they don’t understand/know how great He is.
If God is Love, Good, Powerful.. all these great things.. He would be the most greatest thing ever and the need/desire for Him would be so great it would literally be a Love Addiction we can’t stop. But why do we still stray away or put things to do before God? I think logically it’s because we either never knew him in the first place or (if it’s ever possible) forgotten who He is.
I mean thinking about Love in a relationship. If you meet a person who you fall in love with, it’s the very nature of all of us to fall into literally an addiction to know more, spend time, and etc with that person.. something that is so great… we just get stuck to it. A lot of people even sacrifice what they need to do like work or school just to spend time with that person because they Love them.. and they rather waste time with a person they love than to do work.. ( this is true even in long distance relationships where you are not able to communicate as much or see them as much.. ur heart still yearns and Loves.. ) So it’s the not matter of distance or how often you spend time with them it’s about whether you’ve fallen in Love with them.
But if you never fell in love in the first place.. that’s when you put that person in the back burner.. or when you’ve forgotten your first love…
But the crazy thing about God I think is.. because He is soooo great. once we have a taste.. we can’t go back. it’s literally impossible. We can only fall deeper and deeper. I mean God created us, so our very being is made to be with Him. So it’s impossible for us to deny Him. But why do we do that?.. it would only be because we’re believing/trying to love a “God” who isn’t God.. because it doesn’t match with who we were created to fall in love with.
The real question I believe is whether they really know who God is?.. and “Knowing” would mean to have experienced him personally.
Any religious person could read a bible go to church and still have no idea who God is. That’s why they “fall away” because works can only go so far in a relationship that never had Love in the first place.
My second point that I want to add this is.. (now this is just my belief.. no one has to agree)
We can’t do anything to get any closer to God… that’s not our job. Jesus already did that for us. If that matter were up to us and in our hands.. we would be allowed to boast about our works towards God. And Jesus’s death on the cross would mean nothing. ( this is what Paul continously talks about in his letters towards people who believe works like circumcision brings you closer to God) If spending time with God and going to Church = getting closer to God. Then we wouldn’t need Jesus to have paid the way.
Jesus already made us closer to God.. the closest we could ever get to God. We don’t have to do anything to earn that. It’s already given and done.
So why do people emphasize getting into a community and digging in the bible/ having ur daily time with God? These things are tools to help you know truth of who God is. not to literally bring you closer.. but help you chip off your blindfold and help you see God more clearer and realize how great really is. Because if the truth is that God is great, Love,… etc.. and going through the bible and community helps you see this, you’ll only fall more and more in love.
So to sum it all up. people fall away only because their ignorance of who God is. not because they didn’t do the right things. Community and spending time with God are tools to help you know God and who He is but never the way to get closer to Him.
and Lastly I feel like there’s no need to fear of “falling away” or to be stated correctly “not knowing God” because if someone realizes that they just don’t know God and want to know who He is.. God will 1000% pursue you and make sure He is known to you… even regardless of whether you want to know Him or not. His Love for us is so unfathomable.. it’s even greater than our ignorance of Him. He’s not going to stop pursuing us just because we don’t know Him. No, any person who has fallen in Love with someone will do anything to get that person’s attention to recognize them. God does the same and even greater.
So no fears if anyone has someone they love who doesn’t yet know God/Jesus/Holy Spirit.. pray for them.. and I bet ya God has already been on that person’s heart even before they were born. What you can do is help that person show who God is.. by being God’s Love for them… just being a friend.. etc..
(but remember it’s not up to you to save them.. that’s God’s job) The job of a friend/community in Christ is to shed light on who God is, not to bring us closer to God.. that’ Jesus’s job, which He already did.
So yea.. this is all just my opinion. Any of you can disagree.. it’s just coming from my experience 🙂
K. Sean Proudler10 years ago
Do true Christian exist ?
Was the German Holocaust a horrible event ? What if an event of this nature were to occur again yet Christians could prevent it,…. would they?
The German Holocaust was a one time horrific event and involved people of all ages and was limited to a quantity of 6 million.
Now imagine that this type of horror occurred again but this time it involved a quantity of 10 million, AND that this 10 million was restricted to children of ages 5 and under, AND that this event occurred year after year after year after year after year……and so on, AND that these children were starved to death or lead to death via malnutrition which caused them to die of all sorts of cruel painful diseases.
If Christians could prevent this ongoing horror, would you call them true Christians if they did not?
Could a true Christian bare to live another day if such events of shear cruelty went on and on ?
In 2010, 7.6 million children under five died, and 8.1 million died in 2009, 8.8 million in 2008, and 12.4 million in 1990……. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Child_mortality