I fell out of church...and was labeled a backslider

When I fell out of the church for a while, I was labeled by my friends and loved ones as “backslidden.” I was tender from recent rejections and confusion, and just holed up for a while and got lost in work, routines, and busy schedules. I was avoiding facing the music for my crimes, including not being in church every time the door was open, not picking up the phone when the prayer chain was calling, and letting my kids witness me have a crisis of faith. Those who needed me to uphold their values as a way of validating their worth, let me know the severity of my error, then eventually stopped calling. I didn’t need it.  

We like to label what confuses us into simplified categories so we don’t have to really think, sometimes. I had been labeled by people who could not abide a crisis of faith. Worse, I labeled myself a failure because I could not to live up to the impossibly high standards I imposed on myself. 

Our lives will be filled with staggering failures. We are not enough, and never will be. Does failure equate to sin? To faithlessness? If we lose sight of who we are in Christ, are we backsliders? Do we need to figure out a way to find God after we have lost Him?

Jesus let Peter know he was about to have a staggering failure in Luke chapter 22. In verse 32, He says, “but I have prayed for you, Peter, that you would stay faithful to me no matter what comes.”

Jesus prayed that Peter would still be filled with faith even in his moment of crisis and failure. You can have both failure and faith at the same time. Jesus labeled Peter FAITHFUL, not FAILURE. 

Maybe you have felt like you are not aligned with everything the institution of the American Church upholds as truth. Perhaps your marriage is not everything it could be. Maybe the most sacred relationships and titles in your life are scarred with the failure to live up to all God has defined them to be. You may start to think there is a defect in your faith, and you could perform better if only you could overcome the uncomfortable sense that something is out of line, and that something is you. 

Here’s a question: did you lose your faith in God, or did you lose your faith in a system? As much as we would like to think it, our systems and institutions we have created are not actually God. We are called to operate outside of the traditions of men, and the vain pursuits of holiness that bypass the Great Commandment to love and value people in whatever state you find them. 

Here’s another question: what is making you so uncomfortable? Is it actually failure to be a “good Christian,” or is it something more? I believe that you, sitting in your chair right now, are called to a specific purpose, a holiness and the refining fire will make you like pure gold. Do not let a sense of failure keep you from pressing in to the hard things you were created for. Additional to the role of mother, sister, daughter, or wife, you have a role you were born for, and your uneasiness with yourself may just be that you are not acting on it. Don’t forget another role that you were created for: to be the hands and feet of Christ.   

In my crisis of faith in institutions, I found my faith in Jesus to be the healer and redeemer of His people. I also heard the deep calling for me to answer the passions He stirred up in my discontent, and walk forward in the higher purpose for which I was made.

In the role He has prepared for us, we are called to impossibly high standards. In this, the Lord has labels for us; equipped, empowered, gifted, talented, and valuable. There is nothing you were given that you cannot handle. Of the work you were designed to do, Jesus says to you in Matthew 11:29-30, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Regardless of your level of faith, you have specific gifts the church needs. You have a role to fill, and in times of great faith and great failure, you remain the Hands and Feet of the Living God with a destiny that will empower and equip others.

Here are some questions that you can ask yourself to propel yourself over any faith hurdles or areas of unbelief you may be struggling with.

 

Personal reflection:

 1. What are the main areas where you lack faith?

2. What attributes or characteristics do others say you have that might remind you of your purpose and role in the church?

3. What is the body of Christ starving for that you can provide?

 

Goal setting and sharing: List 3 goals that you would like to accomplish (at home, at work, with family, etc) that will allow you to live out your purpose in regards to the work Christ has called you.

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