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Monday, June 27, 2011

Why We Give Up

By R. W. McAlister

Ever wonder why people quit coming to church? Jesus offered some reasons in His parable of the sower. The causes He listed are: the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, desires for worldly things, and physical pleasure (Matthew 13:22; Mark 4:18; Luke 8:14), and this list could be expanded from numerous other passages (false teaching [II Thessalonians 3:6; Titus 3:10]).

Some years ago, a survey was conducted of 469 adults who used to go to church but had left their respective denominations. Here’s what the survey found:
Many of them “quit church” because they “simply got too busy.” Too busy to honor God; too busy to serve Him who died for mankind; too busy to prepare for Heaven. Inconceivable!

Others drifted away because “family and home responsibilities prevented” their participation in church. Isn’t serving God the most important family and home responsibility? Is feeding and clothing a child more important than guiding his soul toward heaven? The failure to prioritize responsibilities is one of the most telling indicators of spiritual folly.

A sizable number complained that they had become disenchanted with church leaders or members. Some don’t like the elders’ decisions, others find the preaching boring or dislike the preacher’s style (with little consideration for the content of his message), and some feel the deacons don’t minister to their needs.

Another common complaint is that they’re not being included in the church’s activities. Of course, they never volunteer for service and usually complain when asked to do something.

No small number claim that church members are judgmental and hypocritical, notwithstanding that this number is judging those whom they contend are judgmental! And have you ever noticed: they never boycott any place on the basis of hypocrisy except the church?

There’s also a faction who claims other church members aren’t friendly enough to suit them. One wonders if such an individual is coming to church for the hugs and well-wishes of others, or to serve God, which is our joyful duty (Eccl. 12:13). Granted, New Testament Christians should be a friendly, loving lot (Jn. 13:34) and it’s a shame when they’re not, but is it really worth avoiding worship and jeopardizing one’s soul because others aren’t as friendly as one thinks they should be? Ultimately, what bearing does that have on my responsibility to, and relationship with, God?

Have you ever seen anyone leave the church and take personal responsibility for his or her departure from the faith? He or she always plays the blame game: “It’s not my fault; it’s theirs!” Such is the excuse of dishonest people who refuse to acknowledge their own problems.

A small number claim they left the church because they lost faith in organized religion. Would they prefer disorganized religion? Some claim they want Christ without the church, but honest Christians know you can’t have the Head without the body (Col. 1:18; Eph. 5:23). God is not the author of confusion (I Corinthians 14:33), and we have no authority to cobble together our own worship system (John 4:24; 17:17).

Others may experience a job move that sends them into an area where there are no Christians. Or, perhaps one’s residence doesn’t change, but one takes a different job and those in the new workplace aren’t Christians (very likely, since New Testament Christians are in the minority). If a person lacks the stability to survive where there is no church (or fellow Christians on the job), or if they don’t have the courage to serve God alone and try to teach others, he or she would be far better off finding a new job that would assist Christian faithfulness. No job is worth the loss of one’s soul (Matthew 16:26).

Sadly, there are cases where people genuinely lose faith. Maybe they wanted a “shortcut” to salvation & weren’t willing to work at building faith. Maybe they were never grounded or they were disappointed when their expectations of God & other Christians were more idealistic than realistic.

No matter what the circumstances, loss of faith is never justified! Read the book of Job! He never lost faith in God, even though his wife advised him to “curse God and die” (Job. 2:9). Job’s response? “Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh… In all this did not Job sin with his lips.”

The “bottom line” is this: there are no valid reasons for forsaking Christ—only lame excuses! And Jesus made it very plain: excuses will carry no weight on Judgment Day (Luke 14:18ff).

- R. W. McAlister preaches for the Anna church of Christ in Anna, IL.He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.annachurchofchrist.com/


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