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Why Christians quit serving God

At church years ago, I heard a missionary speak. He and his wife were about to head to the mission field. “Jack” sounded very excited and struck me as a man absolutely driven to serve the Lord and bring as many people to Christ as possible. In Christian circles there’s that cliché of a person so energetic to serve God that they are “ready to attack hell with a squirt gun.” While I never personally knew Jack, his testimony made him seem like he was just that person.

Fast forward about 15 years. On a website where Christians can post comments and converse with each other, I found “Veronica”, Jack’s wife. Jack was nowhere to be found on the site, and I soon learned they were no longer married. Veronica told me that not only was her ex-husband no longer a missionary, he also wasn’t living for the Lord. It was heartbreaking.

“Jack seemed to love the Lord and seemed really driven to serve Him. What happened?” I asked Veronica.

She told me it was a simple answer: sin.

It reminded me of a proverb every Christian should have written in their Bible: “This book will keep you from sin, and sin will keep you from this book.”

By “This book”, of course, we mean the Bible.

We also know from a children’s song that you will grow as a Christian if you read your Bible and pray everyday. If you neglect your Bible and forget to pray, you’ll shrink. A child’s song, yes, but to paraphrase what Jesus says in Matthew 18:3, children have this magical way of not overcomplicating a Christian’s walk with God.

Sadly, Jack isn’t the only Christian I’ve known of who’s fallen by the wayside. One suitemate at college, who planned to be an evangelist and who seemed very sensitive towards God, is now a college professor with a radically different view of Christianity. He told me once he felt the New Testament, which he quoted often during prayer group, was now a politically-altered, unreliable text. Another Texas-based evangelist known for his fiery salvation messages later left the ministry and went to work for a shipping company. And then there was the faithful Sunday School teacher who would regularly go door-to-door on Saturday visitations; he later left his wife of more than 30 years for a much-younger woman. I’ve also known Christians who have converted to atheism and Christians who no longer attend church due to what they deem as hypocrisy.

In my own life, I’ve had bouts of not being in church, not regularly reading the Bible and not praying regularly. It was like meandering in a desert in a futile search for water. In these periods, it became far easier to do the wrong thing than it is the right. When you don’t read the Bible and don’t pray, you become far less in tune with who God is and what He wants for you. And when a Christian does the wrong things too often, it’s like going down a long, slippery slide; climbing back up to the top is impossible unless you hop off and find the ladder.

Why do people give up living for God? I posed this question to Dave, a former college roommate of mine who now pastors in Maine.

Dave offered three reasons:

First, some people grow tired of doing the right thing and just give up. Paul encourages us in Galatians 6:9: “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” (NLT)

We all have our times where we feel tired spiritually and want to quit. Why don’t we? Dave feels it boils down to making up your mind to follow Jesus and to stick with that decision.

Second, some people love the things in this life more than God. It is a subtle seduction and enticement. Paul writes of such a heartache in 2 Timothy 4:10: “Demas has deserted me because he loves the things of this life and has gone to Thessalonica.” (NLT)

Demas worked alongside Paul but decided he loved the things of this life more—whether it was another vocation or something in his personal life. Some people want to serve God but don’t want to make the sacrifices to do so.

Third, some people just decide to go directly against what God says in His Word because they don’t want to believe it. It may too hard for them to handle.

Paul writes in 1 Timothy 1:19-20: “Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked. Hymenaeus and Alexander are two examples. I threw them out and handed them over to Satan so they might learn not to blaspheme God.” (NLT)

Dave also believes that while some may “shipwreck” their faith, there is hope. They can turn back to God and allow God to rebuild their lives. Hebrews 12:3 reminds us to “Think about Jesus. He held on patiently while sinful men were doing evil things against him. Look at Jesus’ example so that you will not get tired and stop trying.” (ICB)

As Christians, we know that Satan hates us and wants to hinder our walk with God. There’s nothing more damaging to Satan’s kingdom than pastors, evangelists, missionaries, Bible translators, Sunday School teachers, parents and other Christians completely driven to serve God.

Richard Zowie has been a Christian since 1981. Post comments here or e-mail richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

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  1. Lance Tindol
    March 27, 2010 at 2:24 am

    Richard-

    I know that I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know, but I have a comment to Dave’s first reason. For me, and for a lot of the guys that I talk to, we all will fall into that rut (for a lack of a better term) when it comes to our faith. To a man, when you really get to the core of the issue, it has really has nothing to do with us “growing tired”. That is just an excuse.

    Follow me… When we get comfortable with our faith, that is when we get in trouble. We are taught to fear the Lord and we surround ourselves with those that believe in the Lord, just as we do. Well, God also tells us that it is our responsibility, as Christians, to go and spread the word. Think about it… if we just hang out with other Christians, then it is only human nature to get complacent in our faith. Kind of like if I, or you for that matter, were to speak to the same group of guys about football ALL the time, would we ever grow in our football knowledge beyond the personal barriers of the guys we hang out with? The answer is no. That’s why we gather outside information from ESPN, Fox Sports and anywhere else that will give us football stuff.

    It’s the same arguement when it comes to our faith. You said it very well, when you said that when you stray away from reading the Bible and praying, that is when you get in trouble. To stay out of that complacent trap, it must be not only be a choice that we make, but also a lifestyle.

    Another thought on what I just wrote. I don’t necessarily have an addictive personality. I don’t NEED anything and can pretty much stray pretty easily off of anything. So for me, I have to conscioulsy make that choice to read my Bible and stay in constant prayer. I finally understood that just a couple of weeks ago. I’m sure our pastor had said this countless times before, but it just happened to hit me this time. I always thought that to pray you must bow your head and close your eyes in respect of our Lord. But to be in constant prayer, it wouldn’t be safe to close your eyes while driving and there have been many times that the Holy Spirit has convicted me while driving.

    So… I try to just talk with God constantly. He is our friend and I just talk to Him as such. I’m blessed to be constantly learning and every time I learn something new, it just energizes me. This could very well be due to the fact that I’ve recently become a father and see the constant learning and the pure joy in my sons eyes when he learns something new. Maybe that’s what they mean by kids keeping us young.

    As long as we as individuals continue to learn about God and thirst for that knowledge plus surround ourselves with people who will hold us accountable in that education, we will have no other choice but to stay on the straight and narrow. You are completely right about our sins keeping us away from God, but God does lay it out pretty plain and simple in the Bible that Jesus gave His life for us to free us from our sins. If we believe this, which I know both you and I do, then using sin as an excuse for strying away just doesn’t hold water.

    I’m just rambling now. Mainly because it is 1:15 in the morning and I’m a little tired. 🙂 This is the first time I’ve come across your blogs and have only read a couple. I plan on reading many more because I truly do admire you and how you carry yourself and what you believe in. I’ve known you for over 20 years and you are someone that I look up to. Keep it up, Richard!

    Thanks-
    LT

  2. April 15, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    To Whom It May concern,

    This is Rev. Robert Wright, Editor for http://www.Christian.com which is a social network made specifically for Christians, by Christians, to directly fulfill Christian’s needs. Christian.com has many great features aside from the obvious like christian TV, prayer request or even find a church/receive advice and to offer the ENTIRE christian community an outlet to join together. We have emailed you because we have interest in collaborating with you and your blog to help us spread the good word. I look forward for your response regarding the matter,

    Thanks!

    God Bless

    |Rev.Robert Wright|Christian.com|
    |1 International Blvd.|Mahwah, NJ 07495|
    |rev.robertwright@gmail.com|

  3. Sue Brodie
    September 5, 2012 at 8:59 am

    Some people can’t serve God, but they are met with a huge lack of reality on the part of other Christians and the Church in general who do not understand chronic illness or disability and the impact it has on a person’s life. They did not understand it 50 yrs ago, nor do they understand it now! They understand the aging process, but not chronic illness. It is a great disservice to other Christians who have these burdens, yet are encouraged to serve others in the Church at the expense of their own health. I don’t think God wants or expects that. These are the expectations of other Church goers and it is a sin to burden people who are in this situation with this lack of understanding and oftentimes disapproval. It is a sin for the Church to decide what another person is able or not able to do, to manipulate and try and control people for their own ends. To say things like God gets you through what you need to do usually comes from the lips of those who have limited experience of chronic illness and it’s day to day impact on a person’s life, or who think just because they have health problems that we are all the same. It’s this very ignorance and lack of understanding that creates unnecessary barriers that can result in a person having to leave the Church or worse still, damaging their faith.

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