Believers in Christ are hemorrhaging belief in astonishing numbers. It is a phenomenon which predates the pandemic by decades, as the major denominations have witnessed declining numbers for at least the last fifty years. What’s going on? Why are believers burning out? Here are three possible reasons among many.
Putting Personalities Above Principle
The first reason believers are losing belief is because we too often elevate personality over the highest principle. The highest principle is the worship of God, not humans.
This is perhaps the most egregious sin of the three reasons simply because it is a form of idolatry. It is the age-old mistake, common to just about every era of Christendom, of elevating human beings to cult-like status; hence, making them more than what or who they really are. We have made demi-gods of human personalities and its practice is just as nauseating to God as the lukewarm church cited in the Revelation of John.
This does not mean we do not give due diligence to our leaders. The men and women of the cloth should be treated with the utmost regard, yet they are no more than earthen vessels who serve Christ just like any other member of pew.
Isaiah blasted the futility of placing our trust in humans or things:
“Ignorant are those who carry about idols of wood, who pray to gods that cannot save…” (Isaiah 45:20)
Going Through Not Growing Through
The second reason we tend to lose faith is because we don’t have enough faith to begin with. Our staying power lags behind our starting power. Our faith is too small when pitted against the gargantuan challenges of life.
Spiritual immaturity is undoubtedly the modern church’s biggest challenge. I am reminded of the famous children’s rhyme of Chicken Little, who, on a dusty road one day, is hit on the head by an acorn and becomes filled with terror that the sky is falling.
No different today for believers who cannot gather the spiritual strength to move through a crisis, who wistfully declare “I’m going through” than “I am growing through!” This is painfully evident in the phenomenon of “church hurt”, where a believer observes another believer(s) sinning and lacks the spiritual fortitude to understand that the church is comprised of sinners much the same way a hospital is filled with patients. The recipe for spiritual growth is laid out all through New Testament Scripture. The Apostle Peter stated it well:
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. (2 Peter 3:18)
Surrounded by Belief-Busters
The third reason we are seeing a high degree of believer burnout is because we are surrounding ourselves with too many ‘belief-busters’. These saints are the natural outgrowth of the spiritually-immature crowd whose doubts about their faith springs into full-blown negativity. Before long, they are engaging in the type of behavior which is their only recourse: bashing the preacher, bashing the church and, unwittingly, perhaps even blasphemously, bashing the great head of the church, Jesus Christ.
Why do these belief-bashing believers hold so much sway over so many? Who we allow in our ear we allow into our spirit. A negative person does not need an invitation; hence, they do what they have been conditioned to do – be negative. So they snip away at one’s belief, one’s optimism and one’s confidence.
Solomon gives us a clue as to the folly of negative friends:
“Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go.” (Proverbs 22:24)
It is time to reclaim our belief.