Long Line of Leavers…


Over the Christmas break, I’ve been contemplating a large number of friends and mentors I’ve had over the years who have walked away from their Christian faith. Folks who at one time or another led bible studies, were on staff at my church, stood in my wedding, counseled me through tough times, etc.; and have now rejected the very faith they demonstrated to me.  My heart has been broken over the nearly 30 people that I’ve personally known who have turned away. 

Like many of you, I have wrestled with some heart-wrenching questions, like…

  • Were they really believers?
  • Will they still be saved?
  • How could they punt the very truth that gives life meaning?
  • Are they simply a prodigal, who will one day return to the Father – or – are they nothing more than a Hebrews 6 individual- who merely “tasted” of the faith for a time, but never swallowed it?

To be honest, it seems like more and more of my Christian friends are renouncing their faith each year, or at the very least, falling into such a deep immorality that I’m scared to think of how fake their relationship to Christ really was.  I’m saddened to think that many of the folks who started out on this faith journey with me so many years ago, are no longer here with me at this point along the way.  All of this has really forced me in to a deeper wrestling in my own relationship with God.  Thankfully, it’s only made me cling tighter to my Savior, rather than questioning Him.

But in the midst of contemplating all of this, I’m reminded that this is nothing new… God told us in His Word that this would happen… It happened in Jesus’ day- and it would happen in ours as well… Consider these texts…

“For many walk, of whom I have told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things” – Philippians 3:18-19

“But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons…” – 1 Timothy 4:1

God promises, that to no fault of our own, there would be times when people around us(even the closest of people) will turn away from Christ and the teachings they once held.  But even so, I’m reminded in times like these that my faith is not hinging upon the obedience or disobedience of sinful men- but rather upon the character and faithfulness of Christ alone.  The reason I keep pressing on is for nothing more than the hope fixed before me, which is in Jesus.  So instead, I’m admonished by these passages…

“Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary” – Galatians 6:9

“It is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men…” – 1 Timothy 4:10

“And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” – Hebrews 6:11-12

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord” – 1 Corinthians 15:58

I’m not sure about your story, but I come from a long line of leavers in my life.  And although I find myself crushed in spirit and heartbroken over their departure, I cling to my Savior in full assurance that His promises are true, and my toil is not in vain.

Wherever you’re at, keep pressing on.  Fix your eyes on Christ, and Christ alone! Keep running, keep striving, keep pushing forward in faith.  Do not lose heart.  You’re not crazy for serving the Lord! Know that the treasure we have in Christ is REAL – and worth far more than anything our temporal world can offer.

In the meantime, pray for those who have fallen away.  God never wastes pain and His grace never runs out, so I know He can still work miracles in their lives.


~ by Shea Sumlin on January 10, 2008.

One Response to “Long Line of Leavers…”

  1. How interesting that I get a warped view of people in Pastoral positions (or the friends thereof) thinking this is not something that a “truly dedicated Christian” would have to deal with. I have been watching this a lot in my life too: with an old Bible Study leader from College Life, the friend who led me to Christ, and one who I felt God used to really minister to me in a tough time. I would like to believe they will all return to the Lord and Savior who once brought them so much joy and purpose. I, like you, am thankful that this is drawing me closer to Jesus but mourn for those that have turned away.

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