In a prior article, I wrote about Jesus’s taxonomy of three broad classes of “de-conversion” in his Parable of the Sower. Here are some follow-up thoughts.
Addicted to the instant
First of all, things are not as they seem. North Americans, Christians included, are addicted to the instant – in other words, the superficial and transient. We are on Instagram not Centurygram. But in truth, our life has levels, deep levels. We have a direction. We do not really understand ourselves. We are addicted to a linear understanding, even in matters of heart and our ultimate destiny.
Most of us live a spiritual life which follows a trajectory like a balloon you blow up and then let all the air out of, so it careens around the room. Of course, we only look like this if we could have the balloon move in slow, slow motion. Many of us who have been Christians for a long time have probably had periods where people around us were worried. And all of us have had times where if people knew our hearts they should be worried! We live in the already/not yet. Already justified, inconsistent sanctification, and definitely not yet glorified. But as the Bible so clearly teaches, all who are truly saved will be glorified – but not yet.
To be saved is all God’s doing. He does not confer upon us perfect understanding of what is happening to us and how we are responding. We are to rest in His perfect understanding of us, not our (delusional) perfect understanding of ourselves, our past and our lived future. All of this is to say of anyone who leaves the visible church in de-conversion – this is not the final word. The final word is His. So, we should pray for those who claim to be de-converted. Pray with persistence and fortitude that this is a season in their life that God will still use for His glory and their eternal good.
De-conversion does not biblically exist
Two more things. First, when I say someone has left the visible church community, I am not implying they are still true Christians, just not part of a church. I am using old fashioned language, ultimately based on the Bible. There are visible churches and a visible Christian community. But not everyone who is part of the visible church has saving faith, and part of the (to us) invisible church. The invisible church is one, for it is in Christ. It is one, yet spans the countries and centuries and denominations. It is one, and being His body, the gates of hell cannot prevail against it. Visible churches are always a mixture of saints, not-yet saints, and those who, tragically, will never come to saving faith in Jesus Christ.
Biblically speaking, de-conversion does not exist. It is not a Christian word and will confuse us if we use it. Everyone worships something or somethings or someone. Everyone serves something or somethings or someone. To become a Christian involves repentance. This means we reject the objects of our worship and service and turn to Jesus. It means we no longer trust our objects of worship and now believe Jesus and believe in Him and Him alone. We have given ourselves to idols, now we give ourselves to Him, and He will never let us go. What matters is not the strength of my grip of the hands of Jesus, but the strength of His grip of my hands. He will never let me go.
The real issue should lead us to wonder – to stand humbly amazed. Why me? I am not the brightest, the deepest, the strongest, the holiest, the most desirable. Yet He chose me, died for me brought me to Himself, has kept me and is keeping me for Himself. I have no possible grounds for boasting or pride. All I can say is thank You; all the glory is Yours Lord Jesus Christ.