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Why do Christians give up?

August 26, 2011

‘Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold’ Matt 24:12

Is this an indictment on the state of the church in the UK? Many Christians love has grown cold. Statistics tell us that church attendance is falling and one commentator suggests that although new people are coming in through our front doors we are leaving our back doors wide open.  As a pastor I would say I do not see many people leave the church due to a crisis of faith or even because of a time of personal crisis – most simply lose their passion for Jesus and their faith. This verse suggests that this could be due to the increase of wickedness.

In the passage in Matthew 24 the immediate context is that of persecution, and that of AD70 and the destruction of Jerusalem. The implication is that the wickedness expressed against Christians will mean many will lose their love and drift away and in the face of persecution will fall away. But perhaps in the second part of the Matthew 24, Matthew is suggesting another way that Christians lose heart which is due to the length of wait before seeing the kingdom of God. This means that life itself and the need to eat and drink and marry etc causes our passion to drift but perhaps more than that, it is the greed, immorality and violence that we live around that causes our passion to wane –  Matt 24:37 says it will be as in the days of Noah, which was a time of greed, violence and excessive pleasure (Gen 6:5,11).

In these recent days of violence (I write this as we see a week of violence in many of our major cities in the UK) we have heard the analysis of greed, family breakdown, envy and selfishness which leads to violence – the danger for us as Christians is that this causes our love to grow cold, either because we stand out (and we don’t like standing out!) as westand up or that we are drawn into self preservation, and into the greed and immorality of those around us.

As a Christian how can I ensure I am not one of the statistics of those drifting from faith and the church?

Perhaps Matthew gives us the answer in the parables of Jesus he records in Matt 25, and forgive me for using some allegory in my interpretation (which is often frowned upon in modern day exegesis) as we need specific answers to find ways to ensure we do not  let our love grow cold

  1. Have enough oil in your lamp (Matt 25:1-13) – we need to ensure our experience of Christ by the Spirit is sufficient to last us and if we feel it may not, remember what Jesus said  –’ if anyone is thirsty, let them come to me to drink.’ John 7:37
  2. Put your faith to work (Matt 25:14-30)  – we must not hide our faith away but put it to work in worship(week by week), service (in the church and in the world) and witness (sharing our faith, giving a reason for the hope that we have).
  3. Associate with passionate believers (Matt 25:31-46) – for me those in prison, naked and sick are those believers who are that way because of their faith (the phrase least of these brothers also used in Matt 10:42, 18:,6,10, 14 to refer to disciples). So it is a call to associate with passionate disciples – choose your church, christian friends and missionaries you support wisely.

Perhaps in these ways we can ensure on that great Day we will hear Jesus say ‘Come, you are blessed by my Father, take your inheritance, the Kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.’

Maranatha

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