How to shipwreck your faith?
Churches are meant to be a community where the people of God grow and flourish. However on a regular basis, churches are seeing people leave the church and some even leaving the Christian faith. Over the years, these people have received a great deal of ministry and have been involved in serving within the church. But they no longer find church relevant or meaningful.
Having spoken to many people who have left the church, I see a pattern that moves people from discipleship to disillusionment and discouragement. This path inevitably ends in a shipwreck of faith, unless we change directions quickly. Paul warns Timothy about this by saying “Continue to have faith and do what you know is right. Some people have rejected this, and their faith has been shipwrecked.” (1 Timothy 1: 19). This path to shipwrecking ones faith goes through 5 ‘ports’
Port 1. Become ungrateful
There is an old hymn we used to sing. “Count your blessings, name them one by one. And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.” The first port causes you to stop looking at the blessings that you have and cause you to start focusing on what you don’t have. You start becoming ungrateful. You forget what God has given you. You ignore the blessings that are there around you. You become really good at being ungrateful that you start developing a resentment towards God and the church. You look at the blessings in other people’s lives and you start getting jealous. You become like the 9 lepers who received healing from Jesus but did not show their gratitude for that healing.
Port 2. Focus on worldly treasures
When you leave the first port where you have developed an ungrateful heart, you will head quite quickly to the second port where you start focussing on worldly treasures and benefits more than eternal treasures. You don’t want to lose out so you are constantly looking for something better to meet your fleshly demands. You have grown to see that these fleshly demands will only make you a better Christian and a better person.
Port 3. Strive to be like people who have more.
As you leave the second port, you are now convinced that more is better and that has become your motivation. You start comparing yourself with others who are in a better place than you. If the world puts success as the standard to strive for, then there must be nothing wrong with that. You don’t just seek after temporary possessions, you live and act like people who have everything.
Port 4. Despise where you are at in life.
By the time you get to this port, you are starting to despise where your life is at. You start developing a resentment with God, the church, other people and even with yourself. You start blaming others for the problems that you are facing. You are not just ungrateful but you have grown to hate what is happening in your life and around you.
Port 5. Fight for what you are entitled to.
The final port just before a shipwreck is to discover and develop an attitude of entitlement. You start thinking you deserve more than what you have now. You have had a rough life. You deserve something better. Your rights become something worth fighting for. If you are entitled to better worship, better pastoral care, better preaching, then you make that known because you see that as your entitlement. If church life doesn’t match up to what you expect, then you leave and try to find that church that will match up to your expectations. You end up unable to find that church and unless you change your expectations, you will drop out of church and even your faith.
I know I have painted a harsh picture but if we are honest with ourselves, we will see some truth in what I am writing. My prayer is that we can take Paul’s advice to Timothy seriously and keep on the track of faith and not do down a path of shipwrecking your faith. I am ending this blog with a prayer for you as you read this, that you will be able to see if you are docked in any of the ports I am mentioned and will turn around and get back on the right journey of faith.