Over the last few weeks millions of newsfeeds and twitter feeds have been rocked with the announcement from Joshua Harris, author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye, that he was departing from his faith in Christ. In the event that you’re not familiar with Harris, then you may have seen Christianity today’s recent article detailing the apparent ‘loss of faith’ announced by Marty Sampson, a worship leader for Hillsong who wrote “O, Praise the Name.” Let me describe what I feel when I read articles like that: Confusion. Fear. Anger. I don’t know what to make of it. I don’t think things like that happen overnight. I think it is a long, lonely, sad journey that hardens a person’s heart to the point of ‘falling away.’
Plenty of blog space, by authors far more advanced than I, has already eaten up the cloud trying to figure out what happened to Harris and Sampson. Those articles are important. You certainly should read them and feel the shockwaves of fear. I want to take a different angle. I want to give you a few short snippets of biblical wisdom that I believe will prevent you from taking a similar course as Harris and/or Sampson, and others from history.
1. “Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard lest we drift away from it.” (Hebrews 2:1)
Refuse to be complacent. I’m serious. Far too many Christians today are so easily willing to sacrifice personal time with The Lord, corporate worship with the family, and anything that is spiritually beneficial for things that have absolutely no eternal significance. I see it all the time, students are pulled away by the demands of sports, school, or society. Hear me closely, those things are not inherently evil. But there are many people who need to realize that those “things” are the source of their complacency in their relationship with Christ. Many people need to wake up and realize that idols need not be large, bulky, wooden statues from an ancient society. Idols are those temporary treasures that turn your attention away from Christ. Refuse to be complacent, lest you begin drifting away from the only true treasure.
2. “Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in a heavenly calling consider Jesus the apostle and high priest of our confession.” (Hebrews 3:1)
It seems to be a favorite hobby of older members in my family to show me old photos of themselves. Particularly photos from 60 or so years ago. It’s humorous at how difficult it can be to sometimes identify the person in the photo. The advice is always the same, “Take a good, long, hard look.” It’s amazing what some focus to the details will reveal. I suddenly see their eyes, hair, and face shape; I notice distinguishable traits that reveals their identity. It just takes a good, long, hard look to see it. Friend, before you turn away from Jesus take a good, long, hard look at the Eternal, world creating, universe sustaining, Holy Son of God who gave Himself on the cross to rescue those who trust in His superior Name. Before you walk away, take a good, long, hard look at Jesus and see Him for who the Scriptures reveal Him to be.
3. “Take care brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called today, that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (Hebrews 3:12-13)
Imagine yourself in a tug-o-war match. That kid, who looks more like an Olympic weight lifter than a jr. high student, is ferociously ripping you towards that line of surrender. Your shoulders are pulled forward, your back is bowing, knees buckling, you’re just hanging on by your toes. All of a sudden you feel your shoulders set down, your knees tighten, and your feet suddenly grip that old gym carpet. You have no idea where this strength came from until you hear the voice of the brother behind you calling to you “Pull! Don’t give in!” You suddenly remember that soul encouraging truth– You’re not in this alone. Oh wavering Christian run to your friends! Surround yourself with godly people, pray for one another, encourage one another daily with Scripture, love, and a helping hand.
At the beginning of this I said that walking away doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a long, lonely, sad journey to turning away. Can I give you some wisdom? Don’t be the next Harris or Sampson, and don’t let your Christian brother or sister be either. Far too often we wait to extend a helping hand only after tragedy has struck. Beat the tragedy by exhorting one another daily. We need to all remember that this Christian pilgrimage is not a walk in the park. We are all in a tug-o-war match, pulling against the world while keeping our eyes on Jesus. Don’t be complacent. Take a good long, hard, look at Jesus. And remember, brother and sister, you’re not in this alone.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)