It has been painful to see and hear of brothers and sisters shrinking back from the truth. What is contrary and shameful to them is that it would have been better not to have known the way of righteousness.
Why do some decide to shrink back? Is there something wrong within our ecclesial set up, or is there some special interest to be gained? The answer could be either No or Yes. When one decides to become a believer, none of us should look back, as the wife of Lot did and turned into a pillar of salt (Gen 19:26).
Some may wonder about the meaning of ‘backsliding’. It simply means to slip back from good behaviour or habits. The main purpose fot writing about this is because I am very concerned about the increasing numbers of brothers and sisters that leave us. Have we ever wondered what could be the cause of drifting away? I have found some of the reasons:
Lack of interest. We all know that interest comes first. It is the main thing in all that we do in our daily lives, but losing interest can cause us not to concentrate when reading the Bible. It also causes Brothers and Sisters to stop attending meetings little by little. Let us all make sure that our ecclesias are attractive, interesting and relevant to our daily lives. “Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it because the time is near” (Rev 1:3).
Lack of understanding. It is sad when we have to ask ‘Have you understood?’ But God always knows who understands His word. Therefore, Brothers and Sisters, let us ensure that whatever we read or pay attention to, we make every effort to understand it so that we can apply it in our lives and never go wrong: “In purity, understanding, patience and kindness in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love” (2 Cor 6:6).
Misunderstanding. This has brought down standards in our ecclesias in many parts of the world because some are selfish and feel superior. This has made others feel inferior so that they stop attending meetings: they feel inadequate. So let none of us offend in this way, particularly office- bearers. We must treat everyone equally regardless of nationality, tribe, colour, language or gender. We are a chosen community, all of us, so let us seek unity, bringing every member of the ecclesia together and show endless love. We should also bear in mind that the way we talk has an impact on other Brothers and Sisters. We should never be the reason that anyone is lost or caused to sin by our bad behaviour. Remember that God is not willing to spare from condemnation those who are a stumbling-blocks to fellow Brothers and Sisters. “But if anyone cause one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea” (Matt 18:6).
Marriage. Some marriages both within and outside the truth have been violent, so that young and old have gone astray. There are many books on building a good marriage but it seems that such information was not read by some who get married. The reason why marriage should be within the faith is that there can be harmony in the home, peace and love. Marriage within the faith should be for life, without divorce. Brothers and Sisters, let us not cheapen ourselves by being married to outsiders so that we lose our faith. “Do not be yoked together with an unbeliever. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?” (2 Cor 6:14-18).
Peer pressure. This is one of the reasons for catastrophe which has led young and old to backslide due to the kind of people they hook up with? It has been suggested that peer pressure is only felt by the young, but is it true that old people are not affected? If we do not really believe God’s word, we can easily put too much trust in our neighbours. Therefore we ought to be careful in the friends that we make because they can easily lead us astray.
Finally, I appeal to every reader of this article to check themselves whether they are an obstacle to another’s spiritual growth as we walk towards God’s kingdom.
Bro Stephen Siamabi (Lusaka, Zambia)