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Posts Tagged ‘missionary’

Why Christians quit serving God

March 10, 2010 3 comments

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.

Challenges of being a missionary

A friend of mine, one of the best roommates I had at college, is living overseas and working in education. The country where he lives includes a culture that does not like directness. I know this from another lady, whom I knew professionally, who worked there. She said the custom over there is to work through intermediaries.

The roommate said because saying “Yes” is so common over there, it’s not unusual for you to lead scores of people to the Lord one night and the next day they’re back at their churches worshiping in the same old way again.

This reminds me a little of when I’d go to Seville Square in downtown Pensacola, Florida, to witness and talk to the homeless down there–along with anyone else who wanted to talk. I can’t tell you how many times I had this conversation:

Me: Sir, if you died tonight, do you have any idea where you’d go?

Person: No.

Me: Sir, can I tell you about Jesus? Have you ever asked him to come into your heart?

Person: Oh, yeah. I’ve prayed many times for him to forgive my sins and come into my heart?

When I was at Pensacola Christian College, Pastor Jim Schettler suggested this great approach to witnessing in tricky situations. Instead of asking people if they’ve accepted Jesus, ask them something that requires more of a response: “Who is Jesus and what does he mean to you?”