Nothing is new under the sun and the Bible tells us that many disciples deserted Jesus, but only twelve remained. My brother, my sister, have you ever wondered why you were tempted to leave a church, why you criticized your local church or the people in your church? Well today, know that this did not start with you, since it started with Jesus. However, if you understand the truth today, this could help you stabilize your faith in the Lord and begin to look at things as God wants you to do: spiritually and not in the flesh.
You see, the Bible says, the Holy Spirit gives spiritual life. Without the work of the Holy Spirit, none of us can see the need for the new life offered to us by Jesus. Why? Because “the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you” (John 14:17). In other words, all spiritual renewal begins and ends with God, because He reveals the truth to us, lives within us and then enables us to respond to that truth. Unfortunately, many believers reject this truth at some point of their walk with the Lord, and this rejection is expressed in the form of rebellion, judgment, criticism, departure from church, etc.
Many believers know that the Spirit of God dwells in them but take it for granted as they think the Spirit will do all the work for them. Certainly not, because despite all, God leaves us with our free will to accept or reject His truth. The Spirit of God reveals the truth to you, but you can decide to continue believing your own lies! That is the reason why, when Jesus started preaching, His words caused many of His followers to desert Him (John 6:66). Yes about sixty abandoned Him and only twelve remained. Now, let’s look at the reasons behind this desertion!
The Bible says “Jesus was aware that his disciples were complaining” (John 6:61). Just like you who spend your time whispering about your church… yes, many around Jesus complained, but today I would like to draw your attention to how Jesus responded to their whispering, so that you understand what the Church of Christ is all about. But before that, why were they complaining? Because they were saying to themselves: “this is very hard to understand. How can anyone accept it?” (John 6:60) and if you want to know what they found hard to understand, read John 6:41-59 to see that even the disciples found it hard to agree that Jesus was from heaven! This makes me think of babies: when a baby feels sleepy, instead of just saying I need to sleep, they start crying or misbehaving… Is it not what most people do? When they are struggling with something, they place the blame elsewhere! The disciples did not understand the truth, so instead of asking for explanations, they began to whisper and Jesus read in their minds. Even when Jesus told them things they did not understand, they still left anyway! It’s not our fault, we are human beings! And, my friend, it did not start with us… but we can learn from this to improve ourselves and become better Christians. Hence this long meditation!
Now, the Bible shows us that if the disciples left Him it was because Jesus refused to give in to their self-centered requests, but instead He focused on faith and not on their needs! Yes, Jesus knew His teachings were difficult to understand and even some of His Words were offensive to them. Yet, He did not change His message to suit people. And this is where many believers fall: when they go to a church, they expect the church to adapt to their individual needs, and when the church does not they don’t understand… then comes criticism, judgment, rebellion or departure from the church. Nothing is new under the sun. Early followers of Christ left Him because they were not yet converted in their hearts to understand that as we grow in faith, we may be tempted to turn away because Jesus’ teachings are demanding and difficult and may not always directly address our individual needs as we see it, though He who knows the unseen knows why He wants us to do what we are doing anyway.
Following Christ to the end is not easy. That is the reason why, after many abandoned Him, Jesus asked the twelve remaining if they too were also going to leave. But Peter answered in his straightforward way for all of them: “Lord, to whom would we go?” (John 6: 67-68). My friend, there is no middle ground with Jesus. Jesus Himself gave His disciples the choice to accept Him or reject Him, for it was their free will to follow Him. You are not going to a church for someone in that church. You are going for the Head of the Church, JESUS CHRIST! So learn to leave your opinions, your character and your knowledge aside when you go to a church and set your eyes on Jesus, not on man. When Jesus set up His Church, He also set up rules for it to be run, and the rules of the world that you have been used to have no place within the body of Christ. Even when Jesus was there, those who found His rules too hard behaved differently from those who wanted to understand more, learn more and know more about Him. My friend, your laws, your knowledge, your rules… everything that regulates your being and your personal life in the world stops when Jesus’ rule begins within His church! Unless you understand this, you will never be stable in your faith and you will never grow spiritually.
Jesus does not compromise. Have you read that He asked someone to stay with Him? His Church should not compromise either. It is simple! Jesus established His church and He called men and women to serve Him and lead His people, and, whether you agree or not with that, Jesus trusts those He has called to serve Him, despite their weaknesses, despite the fact that they are sinners. Therefore, your opinion does not matter to Jesus. However, whenever you are whispering against His servants, remember that He is asking you this: “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand” (Romans 14:4). All Jesus expects you to do is to answer Him, despite those things you like or not, those things you understand or not “are you also going to leave?”(John 6:67).
My friend, in the Church of Christ, there is only one who is important: Jesus Christ; there is only one doctrine that is acceptable: that of Jesus Christ! Leave your knowledge aside. Jesus Christ is Lord in your life and in the lives of others, as much as He is Lord in His Church. So, learn to control your thoughts and your mouth, especially against everything about the Church of Christ, for He reads your thoughts and He hears what you say. And never forget this too: when you grumble against what God has established, you are grumbling against himself and this is what God had answered his grumbling people: “How long will this wicked community grumble against me? I have heard the complaints of these grumbling Israelites. So tell them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Lord, I will do to you the very thing I heard you say” (Numbers 14:26-28). It is because they were grumbling that many disciples could not find the spiritual strength to remain with the Lord, so they left! Stay blessed in Jesus’ name.