Some church leaders are giving the impression that it’s a good thing so many frivolous Christians are leaving the churches behind. To them, those that remain are true believers. There’s just one problem with the line of thinking: they’re not counting all of the true believers that are leaving the churches behind.
They say things like: “it’s better than uncommitted Christians leave the church because we will have serious believers who really care about our mission.” It makes it sound as if the Christians that are going elsewhere weren’t really believers in the first place or the whole lot of them might have been sort of believers that backslid.
The church seems to think that they are the innocent party here – and verses that say things like: “They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.” (1 John 2:19) are used to draw a sharp distinction between the faithful remnant and the unfaithful droves leaving the church.
They say that the church is being refined – the dross and other impurities are being removed and the remainder is pure silver, reflecting God’s glory. Isn’t that more of an insult to the people who are leaving church? Can statistics prove that the people who still go to church are more holy, less sinful, more morally upright than those who do not?
I wonder if the ancient Jews felt the same way about the believers of The Way – now that the rubbish who believed wrongly were not in the picture, what they had was a stronger, better, more faithful faith than they would have had these wrong ideas about Jesus and salvation been allowed to remain unchallenged.
But you know what, anybody can take pure silver and turn it into a beautiful piece of jewelry. It takes a special skill to take impure dross and make it outshine that silver. That’s how God worked in the New Testament – when the ‘silver’ wouldn’t have given tax collectors and prostitutes the time of day, Jesus redeemed the ‘dross’ and they became a part of the kingdom in a special way – they spoke with Him face to face, were forgiven, and were reforged into something beautiful.
So when these leaders are saying that the riffraff are being shown the door – I tend to imagine that God’s calling out many faithful true believers to redeem them into something that will outshine the church they left behind.