It seems like shock news fills up the front page, headline news, and social media feeds these days. The bigger the shock the more clicks, views, or reads that follow. There is no shortage of clickbait and hyperbolic headlines trying to grab our attention. These cause us to reassess everything. The hope is to get us to respond with shock and awe. I’ve fallen prey to it and I’ve heard numerous times, “have you heard?” or “did you read?”. This is especially evident when it comes to leaving the faith.
“Deconversion”, “leaving the faith”, “exiting the church” and other catchphrases abound. And with every new story comes added pressure to question everything. Yet behind each story, there is a shock and awe on a personal level. One more person rearranges their lives around a different hub. Another friend left one community for another. Even family members walk away from those who walked with them through so much. And all of this can come across as shocking. And while I sympathize and don’t pretend to know the details of every story, there is a different underlying, often unspoken assumption: leaving the faith should be shocking. It’s almost as if we are to believe we live in unprecedented times.
I’ve had close friends walk away from following Jesus. It hurts. It’s confusing. And it is shocking. But the more I reflect on it, I think the shock comes down to a false expectation I held. An unrealistic expectation. An assumption about our world and humanity. Stephen McAlpine sheds some light on this issue in regards to what seems like an uptick in those who are leaving the faith in his article “Shock News: Judas Walks Away From the Faith.” Stephen uses one more well-known individual as the framework of his article, but I think the principles he shares are spot on.
Watching someone you love and care about walk away from something you both shared, loved, and devoted your lives to hurts. At first, it can seem personal, then inconceivable, then finally unbearable. If you’ve “walked away from the faith” or know someone who has this is a great article to read and be reminded – we don’t have to be shocked and maybe we shouldn’t. But it is also a great reminder for us to check in with each other. Ask your friends, family, or anyone you care in the slightest about how they are doing…really?
As always be with the Lord’s people on the Lord’s day. And if you are struggling, share your heart with someone!
Until Next Time…