On Monday we looked at how important it is for Christians to stay right with God in all areas of our lives. We discussed abiding with Him as a foundational truth of Christianity and how not abiding in Christ leads to error and ruin.
Today’s question then, is why are so many not abiding with Him? What’s happening with Christianity today when so many Christians appear to be little different than the non Christians around them? Where, exactly, is the problem? And what, if anything, can we do to correct it? I’ve identified three reasons for not abiding with Him and although there are probably others as well, I believe these three cover the majority.
The first reason, I believe, is one of ignorance. How can someone practice a truth that they have not heard and have not been taught? They cannot, of course. It is exactly why in the Great Commission found in Matthew 28 that Jesus did not stop with verse 19 but continued on to verse 20. It reads like this: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” The 20 is in bold font to show the transition between verse 19 and 20.
If you follow Jesus’ directive in verse 19 then folks are getting saved and baptized and that’s great. But please don’t stop with verse 19. Otherwise you end up with Christians who’ve accepted the gift of God but who don’t have the necessary teaching and training to grow and develop as a child of God. Talk about setting someone up for failure! Let us not do that. Let us take responsibility first for ourselves and then for all of God’s children around us to make sure that they are properly taught and instructed in all matters of truth and righteousness.
The second reason, and this one applied to me for a very long time, is distraction. Too much of the world’s influence and not enough time spent with God is the root cause. We get involved with “stuff” and “things”, many of which are harmless in and of themselves but because of the focus and attention we give them they become like idols to us.
We worship at the altar of our television. We worship at the altar of our favorite sports team. We worship at the altar of food. We worship at the altar of making money. We worship at the altar of leisure time. The list is endless but the effect is the same. We put our whole heart into something else other than God our Father and then wonder why we aren’t happy and fulfilled and where our joy went.
We can even be distracted by very good and Godly things like our families and our Christian service! We get so easily involved with serving and making sure others are happy and comfortable that we forget to spend time with the Lord and keep Him first.
I believe modern Christianity is a case study in distraction. Like Peter on the water (Matthew 14:29-30) we look around at all the things of this world and by doing so take our eyes off of Jesus and so of course we begin to sink. We sink and we fail to abide with Him because we let ourselves be distracted. I think that there are an awful lot of sinking Christians out there.
The third reason that we fail to abide with Him, I believe, is enmity. We are mad at God. He has allowed suffering to come into our lives or He has taken something from us that we did not want to give up or He has asked us to do something that we just do not want to do. And so we walk away. We voluntarily step out of His Light into darkness and shame.
I call this a Romans 8:28 breakdown. Somewhere along the line we either forget or stop believing the words of Paul in Romans Chapter 8 where he said “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose“. I have been there. I have done this on more than one occasion in my life. I know what it is like and looking back now I can firmly say that it is never worth it.
God is working His plan and His purpose in all and through all. Romans 8:28 does not say that everything is good. We know that there is evil in this world and that everything is most certainly not good. What Romans 8:28 does say is that God is actively working all things, both good and evil, to His ultimate purpose.
God is smarter than I am. I trust Him and His plan. I want to be involved in what He is doing. To be involved with God I must abide in Him. I must stay with God in every area of my life. Let us examine ourselves and see if there is any reason or excuse we are using to not abide with Him and take care of it right now.