Falling Away is Falling Away from Jesus
As I studied the book of Hebrews in preparation for our study as a church, one thought kept returning to me: my unbelieving friends who used to believe.
I had three close friends who all were in my same church, same grade, small group, and like me, attended a Christian college. As boys, we went to the same Sunday school classes. As teenagers we went to the same high school, we worshipped together, played frisbee golf together during the Summer, and studied the Bible weekly together throughout the year.
One of them was a worship leader with me. We would trade guitar chords and strumming patterns that we had learned. We would talk about our favorite Christians artists, their songs, and try to teach them to our youth group. His parents are still sincere believers. He majored in theology in college.
One of them loved to listen to the same sermons I enjoyed. We would talk about sermons, Biblical issues, and theological topics together. In college, I found a message John Piper had given at my campus, sent it to him, and he loved it too and sent it to many of his friends. His parents are believers and his dad is a pastor. He majored in theology in college.
One of them had a huge desire to see his friends get saved. We prayed for their salvation together. We clarified terms and ideas for his unsaved friends when they came to our Bible study. In my Senior year of high school, we went together on a mission trip to the same town, led VBS, shared the gospel, and prayed with people to receive Christ. His parents are believers. He majored in theology, too.
Here’s the verse that helped me make more sense of their departure:
“Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy that lay before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-3)
I realized this: each of my friends stopped thinking and caring about Jesus.
It’s not like another worldview just took over their minds. They didn’t merely think, “I don’t want to be a Christian” and that was that. It wasn’t their parents’ fault. Their spouses weren’t to blame, either. God’s word says it’s more than that: they stopped caring about Jesus Christ. He didn’t factor into their thoughts anymore.
If you're a Christian, there's a throne in your thought-life. Jesus sits on that throne. We might ignore it sometimes, but it remains there. We might misjudge what is and isn't his perfect will, but he will remind us. He makes us feel guilt when our conscience fails. He brings us comfort when there's no earthly reason to have it. When the Bible articulates something profound, it's Jesus on the throne of our minds that makes us think, "Wow!" or "Amen".
Gratitude grows in my heart each time I remember that Jesus is the pioneer and perfecter of my faith. I know there have been times when my relationship with Jesus could be categorized as “remote learning”. But because of the Holy Spirit’s presence in me, I know Jesus has stayed in my thoughts and guided my life.
I can’t imagine the loneliness of losing Jesus. I feel more motivation than ever to keep pursuing him despite the hindrances and sins that ensnare me. I hope the same is true for you.