Imagine this scenario: A new Christian begins learning about their congregation and realizes that it is a very cold and unwelcoming place. No one takes a real interest in them, answers their questions, or teaches them the fundamentals of the faith. The Bible class lessons and sermons are less than fulfilling, and the few members that actually spend a little bit of time talking to them are much less than spiritual.
This may seem like a far-fetched possibility but the unfortunate reality is that this sort of thing happens much more often that we might like to admit. Christians are always looking to one another for encouragement and a Christ-like example to follow. But, too often they find a pattern of behavior no different than the average person in the world. Many times this causes a person to become disenchanted with Christianity so they walk away from the Lord, never to return.
What can be said about such a thing? First, while it is understandable to be discouraged because of the unfaithfulness of our brethren it is not a reason for us to leave the faith. What if the Corinthian Christians would have left the church because of all of the problems in that congregation? What if Paul would have given up his apostleship because of the hypocrisy of Peter (Gal. 2: 11-16)? Unfortunately, there will always be someone who does not live up to his calling (2 Tim. 1:9; 2 Pet. 2:10; etc.). Instead of becoming discouraged and giving up we should use it as motivation to better ourselves and encourage others to be more faithful.
Second, we must work hard to be sure that we are not “the one” in our congregation that causes another to stumble. Jesus warned against such (Matt. 18:6)! How sad it will be for some on the Day of Judgment when they will have to answer for their ungodly behavior that caused offense to other Christians prompting them to leave the faith. How we need to examine ourselves daily (2 Cor. 13:5) to be sure that we are not included in that number.
Sadly, there will always be some who will leave the faith (Matt. 13:3-23). However, many departures from Christ can be prevented by our diligence to live in a manner worthy of the Gospel (Phil. 1:27), to build one another up in the “most holy faith” (Jude 20), and to love and teach one another regularly (1 John 4:7-12; 1 Tim. 2:2).
– Cody Westbrook