Has your faith gone lukewarm, or is it sneaking out the door?
By Stephanie Hertzenberg
Every Christian knows someone who used to be a faithful follower of Christ but since has let their faith fall completely to the wayside. It seems so odd that a person who was once devout could abandon their religion and undergo such a complete change of heart. Although the complete about-face seems baffling to those watching, the transition from practicing believer to Christian in name only was likely not one that the person who made the change even noticed.
No Christian simply wakes up one morning and decides that they are going to leave their faith behind. Instead, a person’s belief slowly drifts away. Practicing their faith becomes less and less important. They think less and less about God and become increasingly dismissive of things they once cared about deeply.
Most people do not abandon their faith as much as it slowly slips away from them. They do not consciously turn their back on Christ. They simply drift away until they have all but forgotten Him. They likely do not even realize their faith is waning.
This slow shift away from God can happen to anyone. Thankfully, it can also be corrected before someone abandons their faith entirely. Before they can fix a religious problem, however, they have to recognize that there is an issue in the first place. Here are five signs you are slipping away from Christ and need to come back to Him.
You never pray anymore.
Shutterstock.comPrayer is the cornerstone for living a Christian life. There are almost as many ways to pray as there are Christians, but all Christians have prayer as a constant in their life in some way. If prayer is no longer a part of your life, you likely need to take a close look at your faith. A lack of prayer in your life is generally indicative as a lack of interest in having a real relationship with God. This, in turn, is the death knell for belief.
You are never too busy to pray. If you feel that you are too busy to pray but sincerely want to, reevaluate how you pray. Instead of making a big production of it or setting aside large chucks of time to devote exclusively to prayer, sneak prayer in to the parts of your day that you spend simply sitting around, such as when water is boiling or you are waiting for the train. It is far better to pray a little bit here and there than to never pray at all.
You are unwilling to discuss your faith.
Shutterstock.comPeople regard discussions focused on faith in a variety of different ways. Some people see talking to others about their beliefs as a key component of evangelizing and do so every time they get the chance. Other people find religion to be deeply personal and are not comfortable bearing their soul so completely to other people. As such, people vary wildly on how willing they are to discuss matters of faith with other people. Christians, however, should never be ashamed to identify themselves as such even if they are uncomfortable having a deeply personal or theological discussion about religion.
If you used to be happy to talk someone’s ear off about Jesus and now you refuse to so much as mention your faith in casual conversation, there is a problem. A recent bad experience may have made you reluctant to share like you used to, but you have to work to move past that. Otherwise, you may find yourself feeling embarrassed to be a Christian. At that point, your faith has already begun slipping rapidly through your fingers.
You are only focused on yourself.
PexelsIn the modern world it is very easy to become self-centered. Social media encourages you to focus on digitally bragging about your fabulous life. Success is most often measured in terms of tangible items such as money and property rather than in the lovely intangibles that make life worth living like friendship and a sense of purpose. The rise of the selfie means that people are taking pictures that shove them into the center of the frame literally everywhere. Someone is shopping at the mall? They take a selfie with a cute new shirt. A person visited the Grand Canyon? It is time for a selfie with the canyon only partially visible in the background.
Christians are called to think about and help others. This does not mean that you need to live in poverty or sacrifice your happiness in order to good for others. It does not even mean that you need to delete your Facebook account. It does mean, however, that you need to occasionally pause and reexamine your life. When was the last time you sincerely tried to help someone else? When did you last think about someone other than yourself in a meaningful way? If you are struggling to remember either time, it may be a good idea to take a break from the selfies and spend a little more time with the Scriptures.
You are self-righteous.
Shutterstock.comChristians who truly live their faith are acutely aware that they are not perfect. They are flawed, and the idea that they could know everything is laughable. They know that Jesus loathed the holier-than-thou attitude of the Pharisees. His chosen Apostles included both Matthew the tax collector, a man who would have been reviled for his profession, and Paul the highly educated Roman citizen. Christ did not separate people out based on what they had but based on who they were as people. Even for those who were all but lost, Christ still had compassion. Christians are called to emulate that compassion. Unfortunately, some people start to act less out of compassion and more out of pity. They become, essentially, modern day Pharisees. If you are starting to walk this path, you are walking away from Christ.
Admitting that you are being self-righteous is something that many people struggle with doing. After all, by admitting you are acting self-righteous, you are actually admitting that you are not as righteous as you thought you were or seemed to be. If you are to return to Christ, however, you must first admit that you are not perfect. If you find yourself thinking of yourself as better or more enlightened than others, you likely need to revisit Christ’s admonitions of the Pharisees.
You find the Bible boring.
unsplashAs much as people sometimes complain that the Bible is difficult to read, it is actually a very enjoyable book if you give it a chance. Its incredible age means that you have to adjust to reading the ancient style of writing, but that is actually easier done that you might think. If you are willing to read large chucks of the Bible at once or read chapter-sized portions every day, you will find the rhythm of the writing easier to follow over time. This is especially true if you avoid bouncing back and forth between the Old and New Testament. Since they were originally written in different languages, they both have a different style. Even if the style of writing still gives you trouble, the actual stories of the Bible should be something that you enjoy and not just because it is Christianity’s holy book. The Bible is filled with tales of redemption, good conquering evil and people rising above unhappy circumstances. It has clever ploys, moving lines and even quite a few jokes. If you cannot find enjoyment in either the tales of forgiveness or the action of pitched battles, it may be because you are subconsciously determined to distance yourself from Christianity and are rejecting those stories purely because they come from the Bible. Before you panic entirely, you do not have to enjoy the entire Bible. Plenty of devout Christians find the massive lists of genealogies boring, and most people would say that Deuteronomy and Numbers are nothing short of a painful chore to read. There may be a problem, however, when you no longer feel a thrill when Moses parts the Red Sea or touched when Joseph reunites with Israel.
Anyone’s faith can slip away from them. This is a terrifying thought for most Christians, but there is actually some good news hidden in that reality. If it can happen to anyone, it means that there is not something deeply, inherently wrong with someone who drifts away from their faith. They simply made a mistake, and do not realize what they are doing. They can come back to Christ. If you find yourself slipping, you can correct the issue as well. You can stop drifting, devote yourself to God once more and come home to Him.