I am noticing a trend lately. People claiming to have been Christians who are now walking back their belief. Announcing to the world that they no longer believe in God. Trying to convince the unsuspecting that they once had a relationship with Jesus. I must admit that it’s easy to walk away from religion, but not so much when you’ve had a “God Encounter.” The Psalmist David wrote. “I’ve tasted and seen that the Lord is good.” Psalm 34:8
Job wrote after his encounter: “Job answered GOD: “I’m convinced: You can do anything and everything. Nothing and no one can upset your plans. You asked, ‘Who is this muddying the water, ignorantly confusing the issue, second-guessing my purposes?’ I admit it. I was the one. I babbled on about things far beyond me, made small talk about wonders way over my head. You told me, ‘Listen, and let me do the talking. Let me ask the questions. You give the answers.’ I admit I once lived by rumors of you; now I have it all firsthand—from my own eyes and ears! I’m sorry—forgive me. I’ll never do that again, I promise! I’ll never again live on crusts of hearsay, crumbs of rumor.””
Job 42:1-6 MSG
Nebuchadnezzar said after his encounter: “At the end of the seven years, I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked to heaven. I was given my mind back and I blessed the High God, thanking and glorifying God, who lives forever: “His sovereign rule lasts and lasts, his kingdom never declines and falls. Life on this earth doesn’t add up to much, but God’s heavenly army keeps everything going. No one can interrupt his work, no one can call his rule into question.”
Daniel 4:34-35 MSG
Jesus said about Satan after his encounter: “Jesus said, “I saw Satan fall like a bolt of lightning out of the sky.”
I too can say after encountering the living Jesus, my life has never been the same. At this point in my life I know too much, have experienced too much, seen and heard too much like Paul the apostle, to walk away now. My encounter is what dreams are made of. I never thought or imagined that the God of the universe would speak to me audibly. I’ve heard His voice more times than I can count. His tangible presence is indescribable. The secrets, the intimacy, the overwhelming love, the moments when He breaks through my unuttered thoughts to answer a desire. His wooing and singing. His laughter, and yes His loving rebuke and chastening. I can truly say; I’ve never known a love like His! So walking away is not an option. Where would I go? What would I do? He’s all I know and all I’ve got. I have known religion, that I walked away from. But when I truly encountered Himself! When I encountered LOVE; no,no, I cannot walk away.
I would like to have a conversation with someone who has encountered Jesus and walked away. I need to understand how that’s at all possible! I can’t wrap my mind around the decision to leave a safe place for the unknown. Yes! I can understand walking away from religion. There’s no intimacy there. But an encounter…people are dying willingly because of their encounter with Jesus. Dying for a religious experience with unanswered questions and uncertainty makes little sense; But those who have encountered Christ die with hope to live again. We die daily. We die to self so that we can live to righteousness. We have encountered hope, joy, peace and never ending love. So what exactly are they walking away from? You can’t possibly know what I know and leave. They left a long time before the announcement. Lukewarm, surface living. Never really got to know Him. I know people may have been hurt by religious people, may have been disappointed with the process but notice my words. People, process, religion: not Jesus. I have my own stories, but I never walked away. Why? I had a personal encounter. There is a difference.
Marriages fail, relationships fail when one person decides they no longer want to be invested in the relationship. Jesus never leaves. He said so in John chapter 14. God told Joshua the same thing.(Joshua 1) He stays married to the backsliders. (Jeremiah 3:14 ) We serve a God who never gives up or quits on us, no matter how unfaithful we have been towards Him. He’s from everlasting to everlasting. There is no ending to His love. So what’s the trade off? What’s the exchange for those who are announcing that they’re leaving? LOL I’m laughing. Because where exactly are they leaving to go to? They’ve NEVER encountered Him. Jesus asked this question of the twelve when folks announced that they were leaving, and I would like to pose the same question to you. “You do not want to leave too, do you?” John 6:67.
When you’re invested, when you’ve encountered true Love Hell or high water, horses and chariots cannot drag you away. Serving Jesus requires self sacrifice and spiritual discipline. No! You cannot live any way you’d like. You belong to Jesus Christ. You’re free indeed, but not free to misrepresent Him. In the same chapter of John 6 and verse 64 it reads. “Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray Him. ” Announcing to the world that they no longer believe in God is betrayal. They may see it as coming out, but this is what the Bible says about that in Hebrews 10:26-31 and I’ll close with it.
“If we give up and turn our backs on all we’ve learned, all we’ve been given, all the truth we now know, we repudiate Christ’s sacrifice and are left on our own to face the Judgment—and a mighty fierce judgment it will be! If the penalty for breaking the law of Moses is physical death, what do you think will happen if you turn on God’s Son, spit on the sacrifice that made you whole, and insult this most gracious Spirit? This is no light matter. God has warned us that he’ll hold us to account and make us pay. He was quite explicit: “Vengeance is mine, and I won’t overlook a thing” and “God will judge his people.” Nobody’s getting by with anything, believe me.” MSG
Father you said through the words spoken by Jesus that you take no pleasure in those who draw back. We are not those who draw back, but press toward the mark of the high calling of God which is in Christ Jesus my Lord. We desire to have a God encounter, an encounter that will bind us, spirit, soul and body to you. Give me the grace I need to grow deeper and higher in you. In Jesus Name I pray. Amen
So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. Hebrews 10:35
Written by permission of the Holy Spirit