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Friday, September 13, 2013

Backsliding


I’m reading a book about Christian backsliding.  Since I haven’t finished it yet and find much of it overkill, I will refrain from naming the author and title.  During my morning run I was having a conversation with God and mentioned that I was offended by the tremendous exaggeration in this book.  The author had taken the concept of fading or slipping from passionate faith to downright banner waving, in your face, forget that nonsense rejection of Christ.

Then God, as often God will do, somehow hinted that maybe I should explore just how crazy this guy was by applying his thoughts to my life.  Warning:  when God does this, expect to be humbled.

As I find with many writers I struggle to follow, if you’ll keep digging you will likely find a nugget of gold or silver in there somewhere.  The chapter on sin caught my attention.  He basically walked you through the life of a blatant sinner to a believer to a backslider.  I would describe this transformation as follows:

As a blatant sinner, we pursue sin.  In my youth and early adulthood, this describes me perfectly.  I wasn’t simply accepting sin when it knocked at the door, I was out there seeking it.

Then, once you turn your life over to Christ, you attempt to shut out sin completely.  You peer through the peephole when it knocks and act like you’re not home until it goes away.  You obviously don’t live sinless, but each breach comes with some level of pain.

Once the youthful energy starts to fade, you lose a little bit of the strength to fight.  Sin still follows you, sin always follows you.  Maybe you even like sin hanging around.  Like it there in case you get sentimental and want to visit an old friend.  So, sin creeps back into your life with little protest until eventually you are, according to the author, as far away from God as ever before.

This last stage is where he goes off the reservation in my opinion.  I’ll agree that the last step is backsliding.  Yet, an individual doesn’t necessarily continue falling into the abyss and return to sin seeker.  A true Christian recognizes they are flawed and have gone astray.  This can happen early in the slide or later, but it does not cause one to simply give up on Jesus.  Can this happen?  Of course, but I’d call it extremely rare.  I mean, Jesus died so we could return from the ditch (time and time again if necessary…and since we all sin it is necessary on some level).  Thank God this is the case.

God is reminding me that I am supposed to be applying the theory to my life rather than protesting the author’s seemingly vast leap.  Clearly, this hit a soft spot in my armor.  I have been near the mountain top thinking I had conquered a nagging sin only to return and take some temporary pleasure in it.  Fortunately, I didn’t give up on God.  God doesn’t give up on us  no matter how sorry we behave.  The key is to stop the slide, get pointed in the right direction and start climbing that mountain again.

A closeness with God is too precious to ever surrender.  Never quit fighting for that view from the mountaintop.

Run in Peace, Rest in Grace