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Christian Chain Mail #5: Why People Leave the Church

May 22, 2012

It’s been a long time since I’ve written an article in this series, but see my reactions to the last four Christian chain mail messages.

The fun thing about these messages is that they are not based in a Mormon cultural context, so I get to compare Mormon answers and non-LDS Christian answers to similar questions…so what is the non-LDS response to why people leave the church? It appears that the answer focuses on the parable of the prodigal son:

Why People Leave the Church (1)

…The younger son…journeyed to a far country… Luke 15:13

The story of the Prodigal Son is especially applicable to backsliders. It speaks to those who have been raised in church, know God’s Word, have felt His presence, understand His claims, and once served Him.

But like the Prodigal, they’ve ‘gone to the hogs.’ Notice, he’s not called the Prodigal Sinner but the Prodigal Son, because he still belongs in the family.

For the next few days let’s look at why people leave the church.

First: Because the blessings of Father’s house become commonplace. Notice, he didn’t appreciate what he had until he lost it. Notice also, his father didn’t kick him out of the house, ‘[he] took his journey into a far country’ (KJV). He left of his own free will and came back the same way.

What’s the point?

If God’s love can’t hold you, His power won’t force you! It’s your willing obedience that God finds pleasure in, not conforming to a set of religious rules because you are afraid of going to hell. Jesus told the story of a king who planned a wedding feast and invited different guests.

What a privilege. ‘But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business’ (Matthew 22:5 NKJV).

Are you too busy for God? Have you gotten used to His blessings and decided you want something different? Be warned, the road you are on leads to one place only: the hog pen. Stop, turn around, repent and come home while you still can.

No matter how badly you have failed, your Father is waiting to take you back.

Interestingly enough, this response doesn’t say “because they wanted to sin” or “because they were offended.” Rather, it’s this weird “Too much of a good thing” with “familiarity breeds contempt,” but definitely with the overriding message that people who have the most are most likely to become ungrateful and take what they have for granted.

I like that the message makes clear that it’s willing obedience that God wants, not conforming to a set of religious rules out of fear.

…but I don’t like the end. If you make the “wrong” choice, then you will end up in “the hog pen.” You will fail, but it’s ok, because no matter how much you’ve failed, you can come crawling back.

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