Their house still catches my attention most days as I drive by it. They used to come to Church to worship every Sunday. Then they disappeared. Their story is an all too familiar one to me.
While attending someone said something that hurt their feelings. I do not know the details of the encounter; I just know sketchy pieces of a painful story. Now the family no longer attends the Church I lead, and the painful ending is that they do not participate anywhere. One ugly encounter derailed this family on their journey of faith. They have not involved themselves in weekly worship anywhere, they do not appear to use their giftedness for God, and they are not bringing anyone new the message of Jesus in any formal way. For me, it is another story of a family quitting the Church and much of their faith after feeling like they were on the right track.
People like this leave me with a burning question in my soul for the people I serve in my Church, “What will it take to make you quit your faith?” Stated another way, “What would it take for you to give up on Jesus and his Church?
The early Church suffered persecution that pushed many to compromise and give up. Today in the United States there is a limited amount of oppression. Here, Satan and the forces of evil have used other tactics which seem to be more effective.
Would one hypocritical person cause you to quit?
Would one mean legalistic person cause you to quit?
Would one painful event that happened publicly or privately cause you to quit?
Would one negative experience cause you to quit?
Would one attack on your faith cause you to quit?
Would one bad doctor’s report cause you to quit?
Would one season of busyness cause you to quit?
What would it take to get you to give up?
For every person whose house I drive by that gave up, there are five people I know who did not quit. Talking with the people who attend my Church, I find that some of them have held on through terrible pain and horrific difficulties. Each one has an ugly story that did not destroy the work of God in their life. Lifelong Christians are rarely people who did not experience pain; they are people who clung to the belief through difficult times.
Faith is about trusting God and God alone. We are thankful for his blessings, but we do not worship them. We are happy for the relationships that surround us, but they are secondary to Jesus.
Jesus told his followers, “In this world, you will have trouble (John 16:33).” Life will be full of difficult decisions, ugly encounters, and heart-wrenching pain. Is your faith strong enough to stand strong when the winds of pain and doubt come? Be sure you are preparing today for what is sure to happen down the road. It will be hard, but you can overcome.