When people walk away from Christianity, there are some common reasons they give. They often stem from an unwillingness to maintain the Bible’s authority in the face of mounting criticism from an increasingly secular world. In some cases, it’s because of morality, other times it’s science, still others it’s the resistance of institutional authority.
But there is one thing that I don’t hear an apostate say that should get our attention: They don’t say much about Jesus.
We don’t hear of people saying that Jesus was dishonorable.
We don’t hear of people saying that Jesus was unfaithful.
We don’t hear of people saying Jesus was a fraud.
We don’t hear of people saying Jesus wasn’t good.
We don’t hear of people saying Jesus was unloving.
We don’t hear of people saying Jesus wasn’t sacrificial in his service.
We don’t hear of people saying Jesus didn’t exist.
We don’t hear of people saying Jesus didn’t captivate their imaginations.
We don’t hear of people saying Jesus let them down.
We don’t hear of stories of people saying Jesus wasn’t what they wanted.
The truth is, people don’t often turn away from the faith and talk much about Jesus. He is neither impugned nor discredited.
They may talk about the church. They may wince at the Bible’s teaching. They may talk about their personal journey.
He remains as he was before Pilate.
Even though he is central to the whole discussion, people seem content to look right past him. Like Pilate, they wash their hands of him and add, by their silence, “I find no guilt in him” (Luke 23:4).
I write this with no malice toward those who have walked away. My heart breaks for them. Being a Christian is hard enough; pretending to be one would be excruciating. But instead, I want to point this out and, by way of warning, direct professing Christians to “consider Jesus” (Heb. 3:1).
After doing numerous spiritual autopsies following defection, I’ve observed a common thread: the road to apostasy is paved with indifference to the glory of Christ.
All who profess to know and follow Christ should arm themselves to such indifference by continuing to study the glory of Jesus. John Owen writes,
No man shall ever behold the glory of Christ by sight in heaven who does not, in some measure, behold it by faith in this world. . . . On Christ’s glory, I would fix all my thoughts and desires, and the more I see of the glory of Christ, the more the painted beauties of this world will wither in my eyes and I will be more and more crucified to this world.
These are good reminders to us. Instead of merely not finding fault in Jesus, we want to see (and keep seeing) his everlasting and all-surpassing glory–until that faith becomes sight (1 John 3:1-3).
Editor's Note: This post originally appeared at Erik's blog at TGC, The Ordinary Pastor.