Shari, a servant of Christ (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead:) and all the brethren (and sisters) who are with me, unto the churches of Calhoun County. Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ.
What a regal introduction. We take, or should I say “I take, my calling of God for granted.” Paul was writing to the churches of Galatia because they were believing a polluted form of the gospel. Paul marveled that they were “so soon removed from him that called you unto the grace of Christ unto another gospel.” (Galatians 1:6b) And as I read across those verses I thought back about the people that I have seen give their lives to Christ at an altar of grace and tsmhen were so soon removed. Those who I had watched walk and serve Christ. Not as those do who get saved and vanish. Which is often the issue with a soul will who comes searching for a temporary fix to a permanent problem rather than a permanent fix to a temporary problem. Whew! That a good word right there! But the folks I think on are those who I served with for years sometimes; and then one day they were just gone. Believing another gospel? They’d likely say no. Because they’re not serving in another church. They’re absent without leave, and believing a gospel for which they aren’t even aware.
The Backslider’s Gospel
A backslider’s gospel is perhaps what I would call it. For some reason or another they found their time could be better spent outside of the church. They occasionally come on Christmas and Easter. A funeral attendance will heap conviction upon their shoulders for a good thirty minutes after the service. But then they determine that Sunday is like any other day. And they can love God on Monday just as well. They have nothing to prove by being in church.
Just as I need to be reminded Who it is and why it is that I serve Christ, a backslidden Christian too needs a reminder. Paul said in verses 15-16 “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace. To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: Neither went I up to Jerusalem to which were apostles before me ; but I went to Arabia, and retruned again unto Damascus.”
While Paul didn’t go to where the other Apostles were, he was still in the ministry. He was preaching and teaching the gospel as the Holy Spirit revealed it to Him. He wasn’t called to follow the church, or the leaders, he was called to follow God. So be it when someone leaves our church and moves on to serve in another, I’m not concerned for their soul. I miss them, I’m like a mother hen I want all my peeps in one place, but I’m spiritually mature enough to know that’s not always the way God sees it.
But when someone leaves church for the house… no… that’s not God’s plan. That’s a backslider’s gospel. That is the one that allows you to believe that you can be “be just as good at the house as you can in church.” No you can’t. You’ll tell yourself that you’ll read your bible and listen to the word of God. For a while maybe, then you won’t. You’ll tell yourself that you don’t need Christian fellowship. Yes you do. All these things serve a purpose in your life that you don’t want to live without. You can survive. But not nearly as well.
The gospel not only convicts the soul of sin, but it soothes the heart.
Sin may not be continuously on your door step after you leave the church, but Satan will be. He’ll place things in your life to assure you stay away from God’s house, because even Satan knows you’re better off in church.
The fellowship of believers may cause a disagreement now and then, but there is no truer friend than that of the body of Christ if you’re in the right church.
The Backslider’s gospel is the most deceiving of all. Because it tells you “You’re okay.” And you’ll be okay until you’re not and then you’ll be away from everything and everyone that can help you make it through the rough patches of life. And then Satan will convince you that nobody cares. What a liar!
If you’re away from God. Get your heart and mind set for Sunday morning. Be in your seat. If you’ve not yet left, but you’re contemplating it, hang on to the back of that pew with every ounce of strength you have and then hit the altar and ask God to help you through. Don’t go to church for the sake of other people. Go to church for you.