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.