September 4, 2015

Why Do So Many Walk Away from the Christian Faith? (2)

“Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.” (Heb. 2:1 ESV)

We’ve seen in part 1 that it’s so easy to take the gospel of Jesus for granted. The author to the Hebrews wants us to pay careful attention to his Word. Why is he so concerned about this? He tells us at the end of verse 1—in case we ‘drift away’.

So that we don't drift away!

A British explorer was leading an expedition in the North Pole. He and his team were calculating where they were based on the stars, and then began a long, hard, and brutal march north. It was freezing, and it took hours and hours. When it came time to make camp and have a rest, they took a reading of their position based on the stars again. They found, to their horror, that instead of being further north, they were now even further south than when they had started walking.

The problem was that they had been walking on an ice flow that was moving south as they were walking north. The drift was so slight that they had not even noticed it.

That is the point here. When we take our eyes off Christ, then we become open to the ungodly influences of our world. It may be slight and barely felt but, ultimately, it causes us to drift from Christ.

We don’t just wake up one day and think, I won’t follow Jesus anymore. It happens over time. We don’t even notice it at first. We have drifted.

No authentic Christian can ever be lost. That is not the issue here. No authentic Christian can lose what Christ has purchased for them. The issue here is not rejecting Jesus outright, but just taking our eyes off him ever so slightly.

It is always dangerous when we start neglecting Christ and the demands he makes on our lives. When something else takes centre place in our hearts, then the drift has started. Guaranteed. And it almost always boils down to either the opposite sex, money, or selfishness.

Every year there are those that start well at NCC. They’re all determined and full of beans, but then they drift off, no longer truly following Jesus. What happened?

They got distracted.

They took their eyes off the Lord.

And don’t think it couldn’t happen to you! I qualified for ministry with 40 or so people 16 years ago. Less than 10 of us are in ministry now, and countless have abandoned the faith, battle depression, drugs, mental illness, broken relationships, marriages, and even prison.

When we first come to faith, it’s like buying a 50-inch flat screen with a state of the art surround sound system. We get it and invite people round so we can show it off. What a beauty. It does everything. We are well chuffed. It takes pride of place on the living room wall. But six months later, we go round our pals house and he has an 80-inch monster with built in Bluetooth, Internet, and Blu-ray facilities. Ours doesn’t seem so good anymore. We want this new model. It has taken our attention. It’s taken the shine off our bad boy.

That’s what we do to Jesus. We love him and we start off buzzing. He’s like our new TV. We can’t wait to tell people about this new part of our life. But then something else comes in and takes our attention. Maybe we meet a non-Christian girl or boy and we get distracted. We tell ourselves they’ll become Christians but, all too soon, we don’t talk about Jesus much anymore. Not like we used to. Our relationship has become more important to us than he has. The shine has worn off.

  • When we become embarrassed by spiritual conversations.
  • When we don’t engage in heartfelt worship with God’s people.
  • When we’re not troubled by what we watch and read.
  • When we’re dulled by the preaching of the gospel.
  • When we’re not burdened for the lost.

These should be warning signs for us.

We can think of the Christian faith as a walk upstream against the current—it’s hard going and it becomes difficult in places. We have rocks to climb over. Sometimes we fall over and get wet. But we get back up and keep going.

Some people just think, I’m tired of this, I need a break.They lie down for a rest and let the current pull them back. Before long they’re miles away from their starting point, wondering how it happened.

The antidote is to pay more careful attention to God’s Word. That must surely mean that we need to return to the gospel time and again. We should proclaim it and preach it to ourselves at every opportunity. We must never become conceited enough to think that we have no need of hearing it anymore or that we know it too well.

We pay attention so that we don’t drift.

We are either moving forward or we are drifting backward. There is no standing still in the Christian faith.

Part 3 follows. . . .

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