A while ago, I read a post put up by a bitter feminist agnostic, titled “Why I left Christianity.”
I took my time to read it carefully because most “deconversion” stories provide clues into how people reject what they never had a proper understanding of to begin with. Like Gilbert Chesterton said, “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.”
Of course, it was filled with what I had expected:
“An elder in my church cheated on his wife many times; a pastor in my church abandoned his indisposed children and wife. I saw many things as a child,” and some other regular rhetoric of how bad Christians are (and apparently how morally superior she and her comrades are).
All her arguments were a desperate claw at reason. Her reasons for rejecting Christianity are as strong as a limp noodle.
But one fact stood out though: her gaze was not (and probably never) on Jesus Christ. I say this because I have walked that path before, and it leads nowhere. Let me narrate it a bit.
In 2011, when I was seeking help for a problem I had, I joined an online Christian recovery program. It was a group made up of largely men and women from different backgrounds, with similar pasts seeking healing and victory over defiling habits.
We all shared personal experiences, struggles and pain and received prayers, encouragement, Biblical instruction and accountability.
But months into my membership, things began to crop up; the ugly reality of the sin nature rearing its head in the group – hypocrisy, arrogance, deceit, hasty condemnations, strife, intrusion of privacy.
Some members also had impure motives; they were there not to quit their habits of sin but to sneak people out through the backdoor back into their old ways.
My zeal soon waned, and I gradually began to flirt with my old pattern of living and fell flat again into it. This time around, I was ashamed and felt like a failure. It became clear to me that my personal will power and sincere intentions weren’t enough.
Though I received some encouragement from one or two friends on that path, it didn’t allay my sadness, shame and guilt. I slid into depression and nearly lost the will to live.
I decided to stop fighting. Christianity didn’t seem to meet my needs. It appeared to thrust unrealistic expectations on me. As the sadness drifted, my heart became hardened against the Christian life. I left the group and severed my ties with these people.
It would take a couple of years before the Lord in His glorious mercy began to draw me again to Himself and helped me find my bearing. That is just one of the bad experiences I’ve had. Yet I’m still a Christian today.
In retrospect, I can see why I fell back then. I was looking up to (sinful) people; I was trusting in a formula; I was fixing my gaze on myself and my abilities, but I wasn’t looking at the Lord Jesus.
I feel in my spirit that some of my readers are in this shoe. You’ve trusted in your church leaders and they’ve shipwrecked your faith. You’ve trusted in a religious institution, but it has led you astray.
You’ve trusted in a rite or a format and it has left you in the gutter. You’re still being defeated by that unclean habit (hard drugs, sex, porn, vile affections, theft, occult snares, name it).
There’s a piece of the puzzle you may have missed:
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2).
In Greek, the word “archegon” (author) means founder or leader and “teleioten” (perfecter) means a completer and finisher.
Jesus has the power to rescue you and complete your faith. He sits before the throne of God to intercede for us. No human or religious intercession can match that of Jesus Christ. Only He has the power to completely deliver you from whatever spiritual challenge you’re having.
“Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always live to intercede for them” (Heb. 7:25).
Many people miss this crucial step. They rush to the next prophet, the next deliverance minister, the next group therapy, the next retreat centre, the next “mercy land,” but they have never surrendered their lives to Jesus Christ and directly ask Him to deliver them completely. They have never sought Jesus to cleanse them, remould them and fill them with power to live as children of God.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not against seeking counseling, instruction and prayer ministry. But first things must come first.
We are to be “rooted and built up in him [Christ], strengthened in the faith” (Col. 2:7). That’s the key of a strong Christian life. A house that is not built on the rock cannot withstand the wind, storms and flood of life.
Your ability to stand in spite of how others fail you, persecute you or oppose you is directly proportional to how deep you are in Christ. The deeper your root in Christ, the more your branches extend and the stronger you become.
Many of the sinful habits we struggle with linger because we have not yet consecrated our lives to Christ and fervently dedicate ourselves to serve Him with all of our lives.
We are all in a race. A tasking one. Your church leader cannot run your race for you. Neither your friends.
Don’t let the floundering of people in the church divert you from the glory ahead. Follow Jesus personally with all your heart and He will work in your life.