Facebook is a great way to keep in touch with people who live far away or with whom you rarely see. Recently, however, Facebook has been a source of heartache for me. Three people with whom I was in Bible study and who went to a solid, Bible teaching church have wandered into sin and have chosen worldly passions over a relationship with Christ. I am reminded of their bad decisions with every Facebook picture or update they post.
I am not shocked when non-Christian friends use profanity or talk excessively about drinking, anger, greed or bitterness. They are of the world. Why should I be surprised? However, it makes my heart sink when people who claimed to be Christ's followers "abandon" their faith. Two of the individuals are proclaiming to still be "spiritual", but they are relying on self entirely and not open to admonishment or humility. The third individual makes me the most sad, for he was someone I have known since elementary school. I always admired his boldness, his athletic talent, his intelligence, and, I thought, his faith in God. He has not just fallen away, he is a false teacher and is spreading a false message.
I recently discovered, he has a website/blog he posts on Facebook which is on the EXTREME side of emergent beliefs. Every discussion is seen in light of a social gospel, and he goes so far as to call Christians who share the true gospel as small minded, brainwashed individuals who don't get what Christ wanted us to do--love others and help those in oppression, according to him. He recently went to seminary and has emerged with a desire for intellectual "discussions" on what the Bible means to you, how we can help overthrow established systems of power, and, mainly, ways to create comfort for people here on earth. He fights for social, gender, racial and economic equality. He fights AGAINST conservative Christianity. He considers us morons.
My heart aches because he is lost. He fights for the wrong cause. This temporal life is not Christ's focus. It never was. Though he might think I'm a small-minded person, it does all boil down to the gospel message. We are sinners in need of repentance and faith in Christ. We are enemies of God. Christ reconciles us, and our response to this is an eternal decision. We will be separated from God FOREVER in Hell or we will dwell with Him in His goodness and light FOREVER in Heaven.
Truly, this story illustrates the truths of II Timothy 4:3, "For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear." It also is a good reminder that many people who claim to know Christ do not. We can never assume people are Christians just because they say they are so. All will be brought to light before God someday, and many will hear, "Depart from me. I never knew you."
This heartache also brings me to a place of thanksgiving to God. It reminds me that I grew up in the same churches, hearing the same messages, and meeting similar people. We went to the same Christian schools and both sat under my current pastor. However, the difference, is God. God called me to Him and softened my heart to know the truth. Without God choosing me, I would also be just a "spiritual" person with a heart for humanity and a heart that stood in opposition to the gospel and the humility it requires. I owe everything to God, and I pray He still calls these people to Him in repentance and faith.