Whenever I hear about someone leaving Christianity, I know that they were never really Christian to begin with. It would be like Jesus saying during his ministry years that he was parting ways with the Father. Can you imagine him saying that? Why would he say that? Who would give him a better deal than God?
Who would give us a better deal than God?
This is the danger of luring people to Christianity when they don’t really want what God is offering. Scripture tells us that only those who are called can come to God, but it’s God doing the calling. When we lead people to God, we need to be sure that God is actually asking us to lead them, because if we lead them on our own volition (that is, without God calling them), the mission is ultimately going to fail, and we’ll pay the price for it.
Not only doctors play God these days. Christians do, too, when they try to evangelize the reluctant. Jesus never instructed us to lure or cajole people into choosing God’s Way. In fact, he told us to let those people be and to shake the dust off our feet as a warning to them. Our job is simply to present the Gospel so that it’s understandable, not to tart it up and sell it at half-price with a free bonus gift for the first 100 customers. Those who truly want to accept God’s invitation will do so without tricks or bribes or signing bonuses.
God lures because he knows how to do it perfectly; we, on our own steam, only mess it up, and also tend to do it for our ego’s sake.
When Jesus first hit the ministry scene, he was like the new prophet in town. Everyone wanted a piece of him. But most of those early Jesus fans were only in it for the miracle healings and good feels. So when Jesus started preaching about persecution and loving your enemies, they wanted out.
Today’s Jesus fans are much the same, caught up in the good feels and promises of material abundance. But serving God, while never without good feels, also involves a life of itinerancy, poverty, rejection, and persecution. There are no good feels in those things in and of themselves, though the constant presence of God’s Spirit does lighten the load. Christians who fall away from following Jesus do so because they were not called in the first place and are not reborn, and so God’s Spirit is not with them. Absent God’s Spirit, the Gospel message doesn’t make much sense to them, and so these fair-weather followers see no point in trailing after Jesus after the initial rush is over.
Jesus’ three-year ministry started with just a few people, swelled into tens of thousands, and then dwindled to a handful by the time of his execution. The same trajectory has been playing out since his resurrection – a few passionate followers eventually became billions of nominal Christians, though today only few genuine followers remain. As an indication of the extent of the falling away that he knew would happen at the end of time, Jesus wondered if he would even find faith on Earth at his second coming.
The falling away is happening now.
Are you a fair-weather fan of Jesus, just in it for the good feels and promise of abundance, or are you a sincere born-again believer who follows Jesus because you can’t conceive of doing anything else? When Jesus asked his disciples if they, too, would leave him, Peter responded: “Where would we go? Who else has the words of eternal life?”
Indeed: Where would you go? And in going, where would you end up?
Those who fall away from Christianity were never Christians to begin with.
There is no life outside of God’s Spirit, and there’s nothing better on Earth than being a born-again follower of Jesus and a child of God.