On Keeping the Faith

There have been recent reports of a few high-profile people leaving the Christian faith. In thinking about this I am reminded of Aslan’s constant statement in C.S. Lewis’ Narnia books of the danger of focusing on ‘someone else’s story’ at the expense of our own. The real issue is how can I avoid this happening to me? Let me make some recommendations of priorities and practices and a perspective to keep us on the right track. There is little novel in them. After all, drifting from the faith is something that Christians of every generation have had to resist.

1) Prioritise God and his word. Please don’t neglect those old-fashioned disciplines of prayer and Bible reading. It’s probably no accident that some of those who have fallen away have been Christian leaders: in the busyness of doing the work of the Lord it’s all too easy to fail to find time to be with the Lord. We must always remember that because God is the vine, we who are branches can only be fruitful if we stay attached to him (John 15:4). My wife Killy and I follow Robert Murray McCheyne’s Bible Reading plan and read two chapters every morning and two chapters every evening – this has been a good discipline.

2) Prioritise godly thinking. When Jesus was asked which was the greatest commandment, he replied, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind’ (Matthew 22:36–37). I take this to mean that we are to love God with our emotions, wills and our intellects. The intellect is easily neglected. In the past it used to be that part of being a believer in Jesus was to immerse yourself in Christian truth; to read books, to discuss theology and to critically evaluate what you thought and did in the light of the Bible. Such an attitude is rare today and needs to be recovered. All the problems and difficulties raised by the noisy objectors to the Christian faith have been discussed and dealt with before. However much God has blessed you in the area of emotions and experience, stay a thinking Christian. Plants with shallow roots are easily pulled out.

3) Prioritise godly living. Those who leave the Christian faith often say that they did so on the basis of reasoned arguments. But it nevertheless seems noteworthy that those who proclaim their departure from Christianity’s beliefs have often parted company with its morality and quite frequently beforehand. It’s all too frequent that broken vows to one’s spouse are followed by broken vows to God. Be careful how you live!

4) Prioritise spiritual participation. The devil loves to target Christians who have lost connection with God’s people. Many individuals who pride themselves on being spirit