Unfortunately, when you have been a Christian for long enough, you will start to notice friends and loved ones falling away. You will start to notice the signs and eventually, it will become clear to you that they have fallen from the mercies of God. We often look around at the world around us and get discouraged, thinking that no one believes in God anymore, and we no longer even attempt to win back souls. I have started this series so that I can hopefully help those of you who have experienced loved ones falling away, and to hopefully be able to aid you in your quest of bringing them back.
In Matthew 13:1-9, we read that there are three types of soil that do not accept seeds. This is common. Most people will not accept the Word, and if they do, many of them will regurgitate it and no longer have anything to do with it. But why? Matthew 7:13 explains this by stating, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter it are many” then verse 14 gives us the “why” when it says, “For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”
Many people don’t enjoy working hard for a prize that they cannot currently see. They do not want to give up whatever it is that they enjoy, and they do not see why heaven is more than worth than the cost of earthly gain. We see people like this in passages such as Matthew 19:16-22, where Jesus told the rich young man that in order to be saved, he had to sell his possessions, give to the poor, and follow Christ. Then in verse 22 we read that the young man went away in sorrow because he had great possessions. Even though this young man loved Jesus, he seems to have loved earthly pleasures even more.
So now what? We know why people fall away, so what can we do about it? We must be active. James 2:14-16 embellishes on this when it discusses faith without works. In verses 15-16 it reads, “If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and be filled.’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?” If we simply tell others that are struggling in their faith, “I’m praying for you” (which we should be doing as well) without offering help, what good are we doing them?
We must always be striving to bear fruit. Once again, Jesus uses a parable about plants in order to get His message across. In John 15:1-17, we are told that the plants that do not bear fruit are cast away, but those that bear much fruit are pruned that they may produce even more fruit (verses 2 and 6). If we do not stay active, and if we do not strive to bring others to Christ, we will be cast away. We will be a branch that bears no fruit. We will be thrown into the fire on judgment day, and have to face those souls that we refused to bring to Christ.
We also must always be looking for opportunities, just as Paul saw an opportunity when he was on Mars Hill. He saw something that would apply to all the people there, and he used it to share the Message. Just like Paul, we should be resourceful, and make sure that when we share the Gospel with everyone in a loving, and applicable way. We are not to do it in a way that riles up people against Christ. We must share the truth in love, (Ephesians 4:15) and never forget that both of those aspects in our teaching are equally important, and go hand in hand. Because telling the truth is love, and love is the truth.
So what should we expect in our journey? What should we expect when we are trying to lead souls to Christ? First of all, we should expect failure. Not everyone is going to accept the Word, and not everyone is going to have a love for God. As we can see, there are far more kinds of soil that reject the seed than accept it. However, we must also expect to win souls. There are many people who will respond, and there are many people that will grow to have a love for Christ, even if it takes a little bit of time. Yes, evangelism works. Not everyone will respond to it, but it does work!
A lot of people will fall away. People that you love. I have had this unfortunate experience myself rather recently, and I will tell you, it’s not fun. And it is certainly not easy. But we cannot let these experiences discourage us from doing what is necessary. Instead, we should look at these things as opportunities to grow in Christ, and gain experience that we may encourage our brothers and sisters whenever they go through these same things.